The Irish agri-food sector is one of the most exposed to the impacts of Brexit, primarily due to its exposure to the UK market. The Irish seafood and fishing industries are also uniquely exposed to Brexit, given the sharing of fishing grounds with the UK.
Since the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021, changes for the Irish agri-food industry have come into effect. These include customs and regulatory requirements (including sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks) for importers and exporters of agri-food products.
It is important to note that these changes do not apply to trade in goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland, as the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland applies.
Under the Protocol, Northern Ireland remains aligned to a limited set of EU rules, notably related to goods, and to the European Union Customs Code. Northern Ireland must fully comply with relevant EU rules and standards, for example on food products and live animals to ensure adherence to SPS and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing requirements.
The Government continues to work at national level, with industry and with sectoral bodies to ensure that businesses around the country can manage their risks.
We will also continue to work closely with the EU and fellow Member States to identify options for the fishing industry, including the implementation of a number of schemes to assist industry. A link to the various schemes is available here.
As Ireland is uniquely exposed to the effects of Brexit relative to its European peers, the Government has introduced a range of dedicated measures in recent Budgets. These are aimed at reducing both on-farm and agri-business costs through, principally, a series of low-cost loan schemes. Additional, grant supports to Bord Bia and to Teagasc are designed to intensify market and product diversification to reduce our exposure to the UK market.
The Brexit Impact Loan Scheme (BILS) is designed to provide support for those businesses that have been impacted by Brexit. It makes €315 million in funding available to support qualifying, viable, Irish businesses, including farmers and fishers, by providing access to affordable medium-term finance enabling them to invest in their business.
Funding of the scheme is shared between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on a 60:40 basis. This Department’s share of funding ensures that at least 40% of the fund is made available to primary producers i.e., farmers and fishers.
In addition to supports available from the Government, the European Commission has proposed to allocate €1 billion from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve to Ireland. This represents 25% of the initial allocation of €4.2bn for 2021 and reflects the unique, adverse and disproportionate impact of Brexit on Ireland.
Please see further information on the full range of Government Brexit Programmes Supports here.
The Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland sees Northern Ireland remaining aligned to a limited set of EU rules, mostly related to goods. It avoids any customs or regulatory checks or controls on the island of Ireland.
The UK has become a ‘Third Country’ for trade and customs purposes. In addition to customs formalities, a range of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks for live animals and animal products, as well for plants and plant products including wood packaging have been introduced.
If you trade with the UK (excl. NI) in plants, animals or products of plant or animal origin (with additional extra requirements for fish and seafood products), there are steps that you need to take to ensure that any potential disruptions to your business are reduced.
Detailed information and practical steps for all businesses on trading with the UK (excl. NI), including for businesses that import or export animals or animal products, or plants or plant products is available here.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has also issued a number of Trader Notices for businesses to help them to prepare for Brexit which are available at the links below
On markets, the Government continues to work with the industry to increase the sector’s footprint in international markets and, through budgetary supports, with the State agencies involved in market and product diversification.
Additional funding provided to Bord Bia has been used to deliver targeted advice to individual companies, and to conduct a market prioritisation exercise that is informing the Government’s approach to market diversification activities. Product diversification has also been supported through additional funding of €8.8 million to Teagasc to develop its national food innovation hub and funding to support investment in the prepared consumer foods sector. Bord Iascaigh Mhara is working with seafood companies on competitiveness, market diversification and training.
Key to our export success has been our commitment to trade liberalisation in order to open new markets for all our trading sectors. The EU’s Free Trade Agreements with Third Countries help to open new markets, break down barriers and provide new opportunities for Irish-based firms, in particular, for agri-food businesses who often face the toughest barriers in exporting to Third Countries. Brexit has reinforced the importance of accelerating the delivery of EU trade deals with leading economies and regional blocs. Further information is available here.
Information on the full range of Government Brexit supports is available here .
Government recognises the importance of agriculture and fisheries, in supporting balanced regional and coastal development and employment and has engaged with other Member States and the European Commission regarding the impact of Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors.
We will continue to work closely with the EU and fellow Member States to identify options for the fishing industry.
For further information, visit the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine .