British threats to slap significant tariffs on Irish beef in the event of a no-deal Brexit have been raised in the Dail with the government claiming EU support will be there for farmers hit by changes.
Fianna Fail's Dara Calleary raised reports that Britain is prepared to favour the import of Brazilian beef over Irish with a system of tariffs and quotas.
It is suggested that UK Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove may, in a bid to protect British farmers, introduce a system of quotas to allow certain products in without tariffs.
Such a new system could apply to products like poultry and beef – and would benefit massive producers such as Brazil at Ireland’s expense.
Mr Calleary said the agriculture and specifically the beef industry here was already under great pressure, with prices at an all-time low. But the government was maintaining an attitude of “it will be alright on the night”, claimed the opposition leader.
Tanaiste Simon Coveney responded that the Cabinet was “more than aware of threats” to the sector.
Of the 130,000 farming families in Ireland, some 100,000 of these were involved in beef production, the Dail heard.
“When it comes to agriculture, beef is the most important issue,” said Mr Coveney.
While the Department of Agriculture had looked at a worst case scenario with Brexit, the government had spoken to Brussels. Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan had reassured the government here that farmers would given aid during a Brexit transition period, Mr Coveney told the Dail.
Mr Coveney also during questions ruled out setting up a standalone department in charge of only agriculture and food.
He said there had been discussions and replying to questions from Independent Cork TD Michael Collins about the beef crisis, said contingency plans were underway in general for agriculture.