September 28, 2023
Minister must engage with sector on utilising Brexit reserve fund to support sheep farmers before fund ceases – Claire Kerrane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has called for Minister McConalogue to meet with organisations representing sheep farmers, to establish how the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) can be utilised to support the sector.
 
When asked by Teachta Kerrane previously, the Minister stated that his Department could not find a link to demonstrate how Brexit has affected the Irish sheep sector, which is required to make use of the reserve fund.
 
However, farming organisations representing sheep farmers have been clear about the impact Brexit has had and the serious need for supports for the sector.
 
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
 
“I am again calling on Minister McConalogue to review how the BAR can be used to provide much-needed supports to Irish sheep farmers.
 
“I have raised this matter repeatedly with the Minister, and he has stated that it is not possible as his Department cannot demonstrate how Brexit has impacted sheep sector.
 
“Yet, in an Oireachtas Agriculture Committee meeting yesterday, we had the opportunity to hear from the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) on the impact Brexit has had on the sheep sector and the crisis that sheep farmers continue to face. 
 
“They stated that, Britain’s new post-Brexit trade deal with New Zealand and the increase in imports from New Zealand will add a potential further 35,000 tonnes under a tariff rate quota.
 
“They also pointed out that Irish sheep farmers are at a competitive disadvantage with British farmers on important EU markets, such as France, when it comes to sheepmeat exports.
 
“Considering this, I find it difficult to believe that no link to the impact that Brexit has had on the sheep sector can be established. We are hearing from sheep farmers themselves about the dire situation they are facing which is, in part, compounded by these Brexit-related factors.
 
“Given the Minister’s remarks on the issue to date, and the fact he appears indifferent to the very obvious implications of Brexit on the sheep sector, I am calling on him to meet with organisations representing the sheep sector, to gain their insights and look to establish a case for using the BAR to provide crucial supports.
 
“A PQ response I received last week indicated that the BAR will be in place until the end of this year, before being transferred over to the REPower EU fund. That means there is three months to make use of BAR funding to support the sheep sector.
 
“We know the sheep sector is facing a crisis and action must be taken to support sheep farmers. I am calling on the Minister to do everything he can to ensure those much-needed supports are delivered and to do so via BAR rather than sending unspent money for Agriculture back to Europe.”

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