Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

Food boss calls for low cost loans to fight Brexit

Dawn Farms CEO says Government focus should be on protecting existing market share in Britain

Warning: Dawn Farm's CEO Larry Murrin
Warning: Dawn Farm's CEO Larry Murrin
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Agri businesses need long-term, low-cost loan measures to boost their competitiveness in the face of Brexit, Dawn Farms CEO Larry Murrin has warned.

Mr Murrin (pictured) is calling on the Government to use money from the National Pension Reserve Fund to generate 20-year loans at low interest rates to assist companies remain in the UK market.

Although he accepts that market diversification is important in helping shape a partial alternative to Ireland's €4.6bn export trade with the UK, he described this as a "soft response" that could herald "dismal" results.

"I see Brexit in two ways, you have the now and you have the future which is the trade piece," says Mr Murrin.

"There are no trade deals, embargoes or tariffs right now and they won't emerge for between two and six years. In the meantime we have to measure the immediate impact of Brexit which is the significant weakening of sterling, business uncertainty, consumer uncertainty and alternative supply chains for Britain.

"As a nation we absolutely need a set of measures that enable us to protect today's pie.

"We need measures that help industry invest in their own competitiveness with low-cost, long-term financial funding.

"It's not a handout, the money is already sitting there in billions in Government coffers called the National Pension Reserve Fund - they just need to find the tools to actually create funds and conditions that can lend directly to the indigenous Irish agri sector.

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"Diversification activities are soft measures as far as I'm concerned - they are not going to replace markets.

"I want Britain to be as important to Ireland in food and agri product terms 10 years from now as it is today. I see no reason why it can't be if we set that as our objective," he said.


Mr Murrin, who employs 1,000 people at Dawn Farms plants in Dublin, Naas and Northampton in the UK, has already discussed the proposed funding measure in detail with the Government.

He is urging Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to take immediate action."We have a basket of soft measures - we now need the tough stuff that will enable companies to stay in the game until the longer game is decided.

"The bottom line is money and that is just stuck in the 'too difficult to do file' in Government buildings at the moment.

"We in industry are pushing hard to get that file moving and get actions at the other end.

"We have a new Taoiseach, new ministries and new ministers. Now we need that Government machine to start delivering to protect indigenous Irish industry. It is crucial," added Mr Murrin..

Meanwhile, the recent rally in sterling halted yesterday as four days of Brexit negotiations began in Brussels. Sterling was trading at 87.50c ahead of what the UK's Brexit secretary David Davis described as talks that would get "into the real substance" of Britain's plan to exit the EU.

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