‘Bord Bia needs additional funding to open new markets post-Brexit’

Charlie McConalogue.
Charlie McConalogue.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture & Food Charlie McConalogue has said he is very concerned that Bord Bia is not adequately funded or resourced to deal with the post-Brexit scenario.

The local politician has said that despite the outcome of the Brexit referendum last year, the Government only allocated €2m in additional funding to Bord Bia in the 2017 budget.

The agency is tasked with promoting Irish food at home and abroad.

Deputy McConalogue said: “I am very worried about this Government’s lack of preparedness for Brexit – particularly in the agriculture and food sectors.

“Bord Bia is responsible for promoting and marketing Irish food products, both here in Ireland, and right across the globe.

“ The industry is facing a very serious challenge following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, and we need to ensure that new markets and opportunities are explored.

“Bord Bia has 13 international offices, but only five of them are located outside of the EU.”

He added: “Despite the recent conclusion of the EU-Japan trade deal that will allow access of Irish dairy and meat product into the country, there is no Bord Bia bureau in Japan.

“We need to be ahead of our global competitors and first in line in accessing these new markets. However, I am gravely concerned that we are falling behind.

“Bord Bia only received a measly €2m in additional funding in Budget 2017, and only 4 staff have been recruited so far this year.

“This is an appalling level of support for such an important agency, and is a clear indication of this Government’s lack of preparation of one of our most exposed sectors in the face of Brexit.”

“Bord Bia does outstanding work overseas in increasing market share for high-quality Irish food and drink products. The next budget must include a substantial funding increase for the agency to allow it to take on additional staff and to open offices in new market, which will place Ireland and Irish food products on a more secure footing in a post-Brexit world”.

His comments come in a week when the British government laid out its aspirations for trade and the border with the European Union following the exit of the UK in 2019.

Uncertainty remains over trade agreements even within Ireland, with the issue of the border to be settled yet. Talks on these issues are now expected to intensify between Ireland, Britain and the European Union.