Food/Drink and Agri-Business Sector - July Jobs Stimulus

23 July 2020

The key attribute of businesses in the Agri- Food and Drink sector is their resilience and once again it has been displayed during the last number of months as primary producers, processors and manufacturers deal with the pandemic to ensure production is maintained and products delivered to shops.

However, businesses in this area have been severely impacted by the closure of the food service and hospitality sector and the turbulence in the export markets and supply chains during the pandemic.  

The re-opening of the Irish food service and hospitality sector together with re-capturing export market positions are of vital importance to the Irish Food and Drink industry, particularly as they face into the headwinds of Brexit.

Key supports and measures announced in the July Stimulus which are of assistance to the sector:

  • The extension of the wage subsidiary to April 2021 and the inclusion of seasonal workers and new hires is essential for the food and drink businesses as they seeks to recover lost markets.
  • The majority of businesses in the Agri Food and Drink sector are small to medium sized enterprises who are also navigating the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit; therefore it is encouraging to see the provision of a €20 million Brexit Fund to help SMEs prepare and be ready in terms of both personnel and IT capabilities for the new customs arrangements on 1 January 2021.
  • €10 million in fishery and on-farm renewable energy investments.
  • €15 million in peatland rehabilitation.
  • Increase in Restart Grant up to a max of €25,000.
  • The extension of the On-line Retail Scheme, will assist a number of Food/Drink businesses develop and enhance their on-line presence and increase sales.
  • €2bn Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme which has previously been announced should be enacted shortly, and is available to primary producers (farmers/fishers) which should help ensure they have liquidity support to maintain their enterprises, which is positive news. It is crucial that primary producers are supported and farm incomes/livelihoods are sustained as we emerge from the pandemic.

Perhaps what is disappointing is that the Government did not seek to introduce an export credit insurance scheme, even when a number of other countries in the EU and our closest trading partner the UK, have such a scheme in place. The lack of a State backed export credit insurance scheme is leaving agri-food and drink businesses at a competitive disadvantage. 

Together with the measures announced in the July Stimulus, the quantum of EU €5bn Brexit Reserve fund allocated to Ireland and our Food, Drink and Agri-Business sector will be important.

For more information on the above supports and measures and how we can support your business, please contact Ciara Dillon, [email protected]