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Sunday 17 February 2019

Meat producers warn they face 'catastrophe' if there's no deal

Danger: MII warned it is inevitable that producer prices will fall as a direct result of the loss of UK market share.
Danger: MII warned it is inevitable that producer prices will fall as a direct result of the loss of UK market share.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Irish meat processors have issued a warning of the "catastrophic" impact a no-deal Brexit would have on the sector.

In a document submitted to members of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) warned of a hard Brexit and the potential imposition of very high tariffs on trade with the UK.

This, together with additional transport costs, delays at borders, disruptions to logistics, as well as unforeseen threats arising from potential regulatory divergence, will present a massive challenge for the sector.

"A no-deal (hard) Brexit outcome would be catastrophic for Irish agriculture and our food export business," the organisation said.

"The impact on EU markets will be immediate, with surplus product being exported onto already well-supplied markets resulting in a price collapse."

MII warned it is inevitable that producer prices will fall as a direct result of the loss of UK market share.

"In an oversupplied market of the scale envisaged, processing companies will quickly examine and respond to the new market circumstances while taking steps to bring operational capability into line with new market realities.

"With a sudden and significant reduction in access to the UK market, plant closures or restricted operations should be anticipated," it added.

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Furthermore, it warned that there is a real and present danger of the UK concluding trade arrangements with other international suppliers, which would result in Ireland's strong position as a dominant player in the UK market being permanently damaged.

The Oireachtas Agriculture Committee has recommended that physical customs infrastructure be developed to ensure there is no disruption to the current smooth flow of goods and that consideration be given to supplementing CAP funding from the Exchequer for the proposed CAP 2020.

MII said a hard-Brexit scenario will necessitate the introduction of an array of EU crisis measures, which would be needed quickly and of necessity to remain in place until the EU market disturbance has been stabilised over the medium term.

Such measures should include supports that remain as options in EU legislation, but have seldom been used since the 2003 CAP reform.

Land-bridge

Meanwhile, it said the Irish meat industry sends in the region of 320 refrigerated trucks of meat to continental EU markets from Sweden in the north to Italy in the south.

"Approximately 11pc of these trucks are shipped directly from Ireland to an EU port. The clear majority, 89pc, of consignments use the UK transit land-bridge.

"The risk of losing the land-bridge as the main means of transit would carry enormous risks, distinct and separate from the fact that alternative routes would take time to be properly developed and involve significant infrastructural adjustments.

"It would result in increased costs, longer journey times to market, reduced shelf-life, increased stock carrying requirements and serious disruption to a just-in-time fresh food delivery system that has evolved over the years and which is crucial to holding onto customers," it said.

Irish Independent





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