Brexit talks pose 'greatest threat' in a generation
The upcoming Brexit talks pose the "greatest threat to Irish farming in our lifetime" with the livelihoods of thousands in the sector under threat, IFA president Joe Healy has warned.
Delegates at a Brexit conference in Co Kildare yesterday also heard that the IFA intends to build a pan-European position on the Brexit question over the next few months, with renewed lobbying in Brussels by the association set to begin next weekend.
The conference, which was also addressed by EU Commissioner Phil Hogan and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed as well as various agri-food sector chief executives, attracted over 500 delegates to the Goffs complex.
"Some 40pc of our agricultural exports, or €4bn in monetary terms, depends on a successful outcome of these talks," Mr Healy told delegates.
He identified the three critical priorities for the Government as maintaining the closest possible trading relationship with Britain, maintaining the actual €4bn value of the British market for Irish agri-producers, and ensuring that the Common Agricultural Policy is fully funded by the European Union.
"The implications of Brexit are clear for Ireland and they are stark," Mr Healy warned the conference.
"The value of our exports cannot be undermined by an increase in low-cost food imports into the British market or by imports that do not meet the high food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards that are required of EU producers."
The IFA also wants a tariff-free regime to emerge at the end of upcoming talks between the EU and Britain.