Limerick TD urges Government to review Food Wise 2025 strategy post Brexit

Limerick TD Niall Collins has called on Government to review its Food Wise 2025 strategy

A REFUSAL to review Food Wise 2025 by Government following the Brexit vote is absurd according to local Fianna Fail TD, Niall Collins.

Food Wise 2025 is the report of the 2025 Agri Food Strategy Committee, which sets out a cohesive, strategic plan for the development of agri-food sector over the next decade.

As part of the strategy, the Committee has identified opportunities that will arise as a result of population growth and greater access to international markets.

However, in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, Government’s refusal to initiate a review of the strategy has been called absurd by Deputy Collins as the flux in the international marketplace created by Brexit has not been strategically addressed, he said.

The Brexit vote demands an immediate review of the Food Wise 2025 strategy, Deputy Collins has argued.

“As it stands the targets in the strategy were forecast on the assumption that the UK remains within the European Union.

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“A UK exit from the EU represents one of the biggest risks to the Irish agri-food industry since the foundation of the State. Thousands of jobs are set to be impacted by the UK’s decision to leave the EU and it’s important that our strategy for developing the industry takes account of this.

Deputy Collins said that his party has been calling on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to launch a comprehensive review of Food Wise 2025 to consider the new threats that have arisen following the Brexit vote. “Astonishingly the Minister has refused to carry out such a review stating that there is ‘no compelling reason at this point to review the strategy’.

This is an alarming response and indicates that the Government is out of touch when it comes to the threat posed by Brexit.

“The UK is Ireland’s number one agri-food export destination. Over 50 per cent of beef exports and 33 per cent of dairy exports are currently destined for the UK. The outcome of the Brexit vote will cause serious disruption to Irish exporters.

Deputy Collins said that the ERSI has predicted up to a 5 per cent drop in some markets.

“The first wave of job losses has already occurred in the horticulture sector due to the collapse in the value of sterling. The threat from Brexit is stark and real, and it is already having an impact on the agri-food sector. It is vital that Minister Creed reconsiders his position by initiating a comprehensive view of Food Wise 2025 to take into account the threats associated with Brexit.”