Farm Ireland

Wednesday 26 October 2016

'We're in the middle of a currency crisis' - IBEC

Claire Mc Cormack

Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30

Ibec's Fergal O'Brien. Photo: Gary O' Neill
Ibec's Fergal O'Brien. Photo: Gary O' Neill

Brexit has led to a currency crisis with agri-food producers in rural areas likely to take the biggest hit, an IBEC boss has warned.

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As the export industry grapples with the fall in sterling, concerns now mount over the future of imports into the country.

Fergal O'Brien, director of policy at IBEC, representing Irish business both domestically and internationally, is urging the Government to deliver a "Brexit proofed" Budget in order to stem economic carnage along the way.

"They are starting to realise we are now in the middle of a currency crisis. The 85p exchange rate we had before British Prime Minister Theresa May's speech was already a point of pain but it has really intensified. We need an urgent response," he said.

He contends that the Government has been "far too complacent" about the UK's decision to exit the EU and fears regional communities will lose significantly more.

"Our manufacturing, hospitality and agri-food industry happen in regional areas. Indigenous and small businesses are really, really, struggling for jobs and we leave ourselves very exposed for any downturns in multinationals. Beneath the surface there will be a lot of turmoil unless we take some very serious measures," he said.

Mr O'Brien, who was a key speaker at last week's Ulster Bank Business Roadshow event on futuristic farming in conjunction with the Irish Independent, pointed to other challenges including supply chain managers in the UK rethinking their supply chain model.

Imports are also a worry.

"Domestic market suppliers will now find it much more difficult to compete with Northern Irish or Great British suppliers that now have a 20pc cost advantage over an Irish supplier.

A large crowd from across the southeast attended the networking event in Kilkenny to hear about precision farming, new ways to access land and the role of tech in agri businesses. New innovations in GPS self-steer tractors, automated machinery, performance monitors and yield maps were all discussed.

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