North County’s Agri-Food Sector Must Be Protected

Darragh O'Brien and Phil HoganLocal Fianna Fail TD Darragh O’Brien is pictured meeting EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels, where he argued for the protection of the agri food business in the North County post Brexit

Local Fianna Fáil TD and Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Darragh O’Brien has demanded that the Government and European counterparts do all it takes to ensure the full protection of the agri-food sector in Ireland, ahead of Britain’s exit from the EU Customs Union.

Earlier this week, Deputy O’Brien and the Fianna Fail Brexit team travelled to Brussels to meet with key stakeholders across industries to discuss to potential challenges and impact on sectors such as agri-food.

Commenting following his meeting with European Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, he said, “Weekly trade between Ireland and Britain amounts to over €1 billion in goods and services; this underlines the importance of the relationship between the two countries.

“The agri-food sector in the North County is especially successful, given our county’s strategic location and healthy land. In fact, over half of our land is utilised farmland for produce and is the heartland of fresh food produce in Ireland.

“Our county’s 600+ farmers produce 15 per cent of national potatoes, almost 50 per cent of vegetable and over 35 per cent of protected fruits, veg and nursery plants. We need to protect these farmers, their exports and the jobs that they subsequently create.

“I took the opportunity during my meeting last week with EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, to raise many of the specific needs and concerns that have been relayed to me by these farmers and growers in the North County.

“While on my visit to Brussels, I further reiterated these concerns with Michel Barnier’s EU Brexit team and the Irish Farmers Association.

“The depreciation of the Sterling has led to a loss of income for many and producers are growing increasingly concerned that Britain’s impending exit from the Customs Union will result in unfair prices, particularly for primary producers in North County Dublin.

“The Irish Government and European colleagues must ensure every assistance is offered to support assist the agri, dairy, beef and horticulture sectors in North County Dublin.”