Farmer leaders demand gloves off approach on Brexit talks
EU and UK negotiators have been urged to get beyond the "handbag stuff" in the Brexit talks and focus on ensuring a workable trade deal so that Ireland can continue to sell beef to Britain.
The call by the ICSA and the IFA followed a pessimistic assessment for the €2.5bn beef sector from Teagasc's Dr Kevin Hanrahan in the event of Britain exiting the EU without a trade deal being agreed.
Dr Hanrahan warned that Ireland would struggle to find markets for the 270,000 tonnes of beef currently exported to Britain should 50pc tariffs be applied by the British on food imports from the EU.
He said cow numbers would collapse in such a scenario as Irish beef was effectively tariffed out of the British market and was unable to grow exports to what he described as "mature" EU markets.
Mr Kent said Ireland must be aggressive in pushing both the UK and EU sides to get moving on a trade deal.
These views were echoed by IFA president Joe Healy.
Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland (MII) said the Teagasc findings are stark but given their scenarios they are probably "realistic".
He said a "hard Brexit" with no deal and massive tariffs would be "disastrous".
"The same upheaval to markets would be the experience for pigmeat, sheepmeat and poultry too," he said.
Mr Kent said the absence of a trade deal would mean tariffs so high as to "eliminate our best market for 270,000t of beef".
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