Two state agencies in the Irish Republic, Bord Bia and Bord Glas, are to be merged in what the government claims will lead to more efficient and effective marketing of Irish food at home and abroad.
But opposition parties have attacked the planned amalgamation as a money-saving exercise that will weaken the promotional efforts of both bodies, particularly in the UK, the Republic's main export market.
Legislation is to be introduced by Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh to give effect to the merger before the end of the year. But at this stage, it is unclear how many jobs will be lost, what budget the new body will have, who will head it, or even what it will be called.
Bord Bia has a staff of 80 and a current operating budget of E24.5m. It was established in 1994 to promote and market Irish food and has mounted a number of high-profile campaigns in the UK and on the Continent, aimed particularly at the meat and convenience sectors.
It is not known how the merger will affect the future of its highly regarded chief executive Michael Duffy.
Bord Glas, established in 1990 to develop and promote horticulture, is very much the junior partner in the merger.
It has a staff of 12, with a budget of E2.8m, and Irish growers fear that their efforts to forge supply contracts with the UK supermarket sector will not be given sufficient support under the new arrangement.
Billy Timmons, agriculture spokesman for the main opposition party, Fine Gael, said: "Vegetable growers will suffer and so will the food industry."

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