Saturday 16 December 2017

'If farming here gets a hammering, knock-on effect will hit every sector'

Knock-on effect: Co Wicklow beef farmer Angus Woods
Knock-on effect: Co Wicklow beef farmer Angus Woods

Laura Lynott

Beef farmer Angus Woods says that if Irish agriculture "gets a hammering from Brexit", the whole country will suffer.

The father-of-one, who runs a farm in Ballinabarney, Co Wicklow, believes it is vital Brexit negotiations are as favourable as possible for both Ireland's and Britain's sake.

Mr Woods (45) said more than 50pc of his produce goes to the UK market.

"I can see Wales from my farm, that's how close we are and that's the reality of our closeness as two nations," he said.

He and his neighbouring farmers had enjoyed a "strong relationship" with the UK for more than a century.

"That relationship has been there through thick and thin when trading beef and live cattle," Mr Woods said.

"It's a long-established market at this stage and we are the biggest export market for beef. We export 270,000 tonnes of beef every year to the UK.

"The UK relies on Irish farmers because we have a very high standard of welfare in Ireland and it's tailor-made for the UK and to retail specifics. And we've worked hard on that relationship."

UK buyers have come to rely on Irish producers' professionalism, speed, and quality. But Brexit threatens the severing of that relationship. Customs charges and borders could impact trade greatly for Irish beef farmers.

Mr Woods said if Irish farmers were hit, the whole economy would suffer.

"Dublin is developing into a bigger city everyday, but farming is still the cornerstone of rural Ireland," he said.

"If agriculture in Ireland gets a hammering from Brexit, rural Ireland will too. There'd be a negative effect across the countryside, but it would also feed into the Irish economy and have a knock-on effect on every sector.

"We want a reasonably well thought out deal between the UK and EU in the Brexit negotiations."

Irish Independent

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