The Irish agri-food industry is 'clutching at straws' talking about opportunities from Brexit, IFA President Joe Healy has said.
IFA outlined its policy paper on Brexit, stating that no other Member State or sector is as exposed to the impacts of Brexit as the Irish agri-food sector is.
Joe Healy said that the implications of a hard Brexit are stark, with the Irish meat sector facing a €1.5bn fall in exports, with dairy exports falling by over €600m.
"Brexit presents the biggest threat in our lifetime and no other sector is as exposed to Brexit as the agri-food sector."
IFA Chief Economist Rowena Dwyer said Ireland is already feeling the impact of Brexit. The Irish agri-food industry, she said, is exposed to the impact of Brexit as 40pc of our agri-food exports are destined for the UK market, while the land border with Northern Ireland means there is a huge amount of cross-border co-operation on food processing and trade flows and the high tariff protection that applies to major agricultural products.
The IFA said that Irish agriculture must be first in the Government's and EU's negotiating position. “With 22m farmers and 40m related jobs, there is a wider strategic objective here to maximise the future value of the EU farming and food sector,” Healy said.
IFA said the key priorities for the farming and the food sector are the maintenance of the closest possible trading relationship between the UK and EU, while preserving the value of the UK market; and a strong CAP budget following the UK’s departure, which is critical for farm incomes, farm output and economic activity in rural Ireland.
It says that if the UK exits the Single Market and Customs Union, there must be a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and UK, which would include tariff-free trade for agricultural products and food; the maintenance of equivalent standards on food safety, animal health, welfare and the environment; and application of the Common External Tariff for imports to both the EU and UK.