Brexit must be Government’s main agriculture priority - Penrose

Labour spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Deputy Willie Penrose, says the Government’s number one priority for agriculture must be tackling the risks and challenges posed by Brexit.

Deputy Penrose was speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, County Offaly, where he said there must be a focus on protecting trade and ensuring the CAP budget is not cut.

Deputy Penrose commented: “The greatest challenge on the horizon for Irish agriculture are the risks and challenges farmers and food producers will face from Brexit. It has the potential to significantly increase costs for farmers, and impact access to our closest and largest market for agri-food products. That is why the Labour Party has been calling for a Brexit trade adjustment fund of €250 million to support those businesses that will be hit in the event of a hard Brexit.

“When the UK leaves the EU it will also have a significant impact on the overall EU Budget. That is why th e Labour party has called for the Government to commit to ensuring that the €1.5 billion received by Irish farmers annually in CAP payments is guaranteed in any post-Brexit adjustments to the EU Budget. It is also critical that Government ensures other EU funding streams are protected.

“With this year’s Budget just weeks away, it is also time to look at targeted measures to boost farm incomes as the impact of Sterling has increased input costs. In particular there is a need now to examine increases to the funding for the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme.

“The long running saga over the Fair Deal scheme must also be resolved in this year’s Budget to ensure farmers are not discriminated against.”

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