'EU trade tariffs could sour sale of milk between Northern Ireland and the Republic'
The cross-border sale of milk from Northern Ireland to the Republic could be at risk following Brexit, it has been claimed.
Around a third of all milk produced here makes its way to processors over the border, but according to industry leaders, if the UK leaves the EU without trade agreements in place, the tariffs that would be imposed would render the cross-border milk trade no longer viable, bringing one of the biggest shake-ups to the industry in decades.
Around a quarter of all food and drink produced in the UK is sold within EU countries, including £700m worth of goods that go to the Republic.
But experts have warned it is becoming increasingly likely there will be no trade agreements on agricultural produce when the UK leaves EU.
Declan Billington, chairman of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFSDA), said he had no reason to believe the EU would strike a deal for the sector beforehand.
He indicated it was likely tariffs would lead to a 47% price hike on butter and a 56% rise on beef import and export costs.
Mr Billington also claimed there would be no room for picking and choosing which sectors would enjoy preferential terms.
"We can't cherrypick and say we will do a trade deal on automotive but not on aircraft, for example," he explained.