Goodman's ABP fears 'Brexit' impact on Irish beef industry
Paul Finnerty warns that cheap beef will flood the market if Britain quits the European Union, says Sarah McCabe
An exit from the European Union by Britain would do serious damage to Irish beef farmers, the Larry Goodman-owned beef processor ABP has warned.
Thousands of Irish farming families would be affected if the UK opts to leave the trading bloc, Paul Finnerty, the chief executive of the country's biggest beef company has said.
ABP is notoriously media shy and has remained quiet even on matters like the recent outbreak of BSE on a Louth farm - so his comments reflect the seriousness it attaches to a potential 'Brexit' scenario.
Goodman's business is one of Ireland's largest private employers. It has 2,500 staff in the Republic and 8,000 overall, and works with thousands of Irish beef suppliers.
If Britain leaves the EU, it will escape rules designed to avoid cheap imports of South American beef, Finnerty said, with consequences for Ireland.
"The UK is a significant net importer of beef. It's very important to the Irish economy with 8,000-9,000 Irish families involved in production.
"We are protected, within the circle of the European single market, by the WTO-EU tariff regimes. We operate in a community of common standards driven around the agendas of welfare and environment. South America operates under a different regime.
"If the UK was to distance itself from the EU, there would be significant questions as to what type of bilateral arrangements would be put in place with other trading blocs", he said, mentioning Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.