Brexit and CAP a 'double threat'
Repercussions from Brexit and the implications for farmers from a revised Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were described as a "double threat" to the agricultural sector on both sides of the Irish border at a weekend seminar.
The 'Future of Irish Farming' seminar was organised by Sinn Féin's Midlands-NorthWest MEP Matt Carthy, and addressed by the leaders of different farming organisations, including the IFA, the ICMSA, the INHFA and the Ulster Farmers' Union.
MEP Carthy told the conference in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, that while there is still much uncertainty about the implications from Brexit for farmers and their vulnerability in relation to farm income and prices for produce, he said this issue is being "brought to the attention of every member of the European Parliament".
"Brexit has clearly created huge uncertainty, but when added to the new CAP reform, and a dangerous EU trade agenda, it is no exaggeration to suggest that Irish agriculture - as we know it - can face fundamental change in the times ahead," he said.
"There is already much concern over the question of trade deals, including projected deals involving Europe and the United States, in view of an uncertainty about future issues including the attitude of President Trump."
Although EU commission representative Chiara Dellapasqua, from DG Agri, pointed out that CAP already provided a safety net for farmers who have to deal with unpredictable events, the possible impact of both Brexit and CAP reform were the main points addressed by the various farmer representatives at the meeting.
Lorcan McCabe of the ICMSA said a reduced CAP budget, and unfair trading, posed the greatest threat to farm incomes into the future. He predicted very serious implications for Irish farmers in the wake of Brexit because of the inter-dependence of the Irish and British markets.
This view was shared by Wesley Aston of the Ulster Farmers' Union, who told the seminar it was generally accepted that the post-Brexit future held a greater uncertainty for farmers in the North than those in the Republic. He feared the proposals in the new CAP draft document would make things more difficult for Northern farmers.