Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Michael Fitzmaurice has called for Aid to Private Storage schemes or interventions for Irish agricultural exports to be put in place if an agreement on Brexit isn’t reached.
Deputy Fitzmaurice has called on: the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan; Ireland’s MEPs; the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed; and the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to back those measures.
The independent TD’s calls come as the British parliament is set to vote on a Brexit deal tomorrow evening (Tuesday, January 15).
Commenting on the matter, he said: “If there isn’t an agreement reached, then Ireland needs to make sure – with the help of Commissioner Hogan – that Aid to Storage Schemes and interventions are opened up immediately, at proper prices, for agricultural products.
“Ireland has a lot to lose when it comes to Brexit. In 2018, Irish agri-food exports reached a value in excess of €12 billion; with value of exports to the UK amounting to €4.5 billion.
“As people know, the beef trade in Ireland has been on its knees for the past few months. Given our dependency on the UK market, a Brexit deal which would impede the export of Irish beef across the Irish Sea would cause chaos here.
“We have to make sure there is a release valve for all of this, in terms of intervention or Aid to Private Storage schemes. This is the only way forward and these measures must be put in place at proper prices that will make it workable for all farmers.”
Concluding, Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “Ireland is facing into an unknown and difficult period over the next few months.
“If politicians – be they in Europe or at home in Ireland – care about the farming community and the agricultural sector, they need to stand up and be counted.
“We have to make sure that safeguards are put in place that will alleviate potential difficulties that may face different sectors in the future – be it sheep, pigs, dairy or beef.
“This is a problem that can be solved very easily, as long as Commissioner Hogan and Minister Creed are prepared to stand up to the mark.
“These measures need to be ready to be rolled out when and if they are required,” the Roscommon-Galway TD said.