The Minister for Agriculture has said that the current Government is very much aware that the Food, Agriculture and Marine sectors are, "more exposed to Brexit than any other area".

Charlie McConalogue said that €3.4bn Recovery Fund would provide the necessary supports which the sector needs.

He said his Department was liaising with the Department of Public Expenditure on the issue and would engage with the sector to see what the specific needs were.

Asked if there was a set amount that would be committed to Agriculture in the fund, the minister said there is no specific allocation among departments as yet, but he said the scale of the challenge has informed the size of the fund.

He said the detail of how it will be distributed would be "worked out over the coming period".

The minister also said the Government would be working hard to secure funding under the EU's €5.4bn Brexit Adjustment Fund.

Increase to Horse and Greyhound Fund defended

An increase of €12m in annual funding for the Horse and Greyhound Fund has been defended by the Minister for Agriculture. The fund will received €96m next year. 

Mr McConalogue said the increase in funding was "important" due to the impact of Covid-19.

He said the increase reflects the fact there have no been attendances at events, which he said has put massive pressure on the sector. 

The minister said it is important that jobs in the industry are supported.

Asked if animal welfare issues had been raised during discussions on funding increases for the sector, the minister said the issue was, "very much central to all of our engagements with the greyhound sector".

He said continued funding was "contingent on animal welfare measures being taken".

The minister pointed out that the Government has increased the funding of animal welfare organisation by 50%, he said that reflects the priority to animal welfare in the Department of Agriculture.