Agriculture, Food and the Marine | To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which investment in agri-food section continues, keeping in mind the necessity to make provision for a growing population and competing with demands worldwide
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which investment in agri-food section continues, keeping in mind the necessity to make provision for a growing population and competing with demands worldwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The agri-food sector is Ireland’s most important indigenous exporting industry, playing a vital role in the economy. While the sector faces significant challenges such as COVID-19, Brexit, and trade uncertainty in general, environmental concerns, and future CAP and CFP reform; the sector also has many opportunities to develop further and prosper.
The 2022 Agriculture gross Vote of €1.891 billion provides the resources to deal with these current challenges and opportunities across the various sectors. The Agriculture Vote is sub-divided into four expenditure programmes corresponding to my Department’s four key strategic objectives.
Programme A Food Safety, Animal and Plant Health and Animal Welfare
The total allocation for Programme A in 2022 is some €341 million.
Our food safety and traceability systems continue to be recognised as among the very best in the world. Programme A funds vital services to ensure those standards are maintained, including the Meat Inspection Service and the various supports provided by the Department testing laboratories.
Funding has been allocated to fulfil the Programme for Government commitment to a double the ex-gratia funding for animal welfare organisations within two years.
Programme B Farm/Sector Supports and Controls
A total of just over €939 million is available to Programme B in 2022, to be paid almost exclusively to farmers. This support is vital to farmers who deliver public goods and environmental benefits. As well as the inherent environmental benefits involved, this investment enhances our sustainability credentials, which are invaluable as we serve increasingly demanding and knowledgeable customers at home and around the world.
The provision allows key Rural Development Programme and Forestry supports to remain available through the transitional period between the two CAP programmes. This provides the budget to extend, or rollover, existing RDP schemes from 2021 including more than €100 million in targeted supports for the beef and sheep sectors and €214 million for GLAS & REAP.
These schemes are vital income supports for farmers and provide a measurable public good.
The funding in Programme B is in addition to some €1.2 billion funding from the EU in respect of the various Direct Payment Schemes.
Programme C Policy and Strategy
The total allocation for Programme C Policy and Strategyis almost €403 million. Many of the programme C allocations reflect the comprehensive approach to Brexit responsiveness. The allocation provides for ongoing access to the loan schemes through the Strategic Bank Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) for farmers, fishers and food and drink SMEs.
To support our food industry a provision of €7 million has been made through the Enterprise Ireland capital investment scheme, to support the meat and dairy sectors to invest in greater product and market diversification.
Over the last number of budgets increased funding has been provided to Bord Bia to strengthen its understanding of consumer priorities and preferences in Ireland and in distant markets and to communicate those insights to Irish food companies for use in product promotion, development, branding and marketing. The 2022 Bord Bia grant is €53 million.
Programme D: Seafood Sector
The provision for the Department’s 2022 Seafood Programme is €207.1 million. This funding provides for the continued promotion of the environmentally sustainable development of fisheries, aquaculture and wider seafood industry. This sector supports some 16,000 direct and indirect jobs in the coastal communities.
The provision will help fund vital investment in our fishery harbours, most particularly in Killybegs, Howth and Castletownbere.
In addition to the funding outlined my Department continues to engage with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on a number of financial support measures to assist the agri-food sectors which have been impacted by Brexit and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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