Department of Agriculture preparing for the worst possible Brexit outcome (including border return)
The Secretary General at the Department of Agriculture Aidan O’Driscoll has said the Department is preparing for the worst outcome of the upcoming Brexit negotiations including the return of a hard border with Northern Ireland.
Speaking at a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee in recent days, O’Driscoll said the Department of Agriculture is with the agriculture sector, but also with the Commission and with our colleagues in the UK, especially in Northern Ireland, on the practicalities of managing any kind of border with exports and imports after Brexit.
“I have told several sectoral groups that we have to negotiate strongly and clearly for the absolutely best outcome.
“We also have to prepare for the worst outcome. It would be foolish not to do both of those things.” he said.
O’Driscoll described Brexit as the most important negotiation the agrifood sector has faced since the 1972 negotiations to enter the then EEC.
“The UK accounts for approximately 40% of our agrifood exports. Some sectors are much more exposed than that. About 50% of our beef exports, for example, go to the UK.
“This is particularly crucial because the UK beef market is the highest priced beef market in the world. Accordingly, the importance of that to the beef sector is obvious.
Within the dairy sector, the exposure is somewhat less, he said.