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'It's going to be a long road' - Border farmer on Brexit

As the EU fires the first salvo on Brexit negotiations, our reporter talks to farmers on the Border about what Brexit may mean for them


Brian Treanor on his farm outside Emyvale, Co Monaghan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Brian Treanor on his farm outside Emyvale, Co Monaghan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Brian Treanor on his farm outside Emyvale, Co Monaghan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Farmers along the border are viewing the upcoming Brexit talks with a mixture of fear and nervous anticipation.

They are worried whether a 'hard' or 'soft' frontier will emerge once the disengagement of Britain from the European Union takes place in two years' time.

Brian Treanor, a dairy man from Emyvale, Co Monaghan, said whatever emerges from these talks will have a negative impact on farming in the region - with the emergence of a "hard border" the worst possible outcome.

Dairy farmers in the region deal with Lakelands and LacPatrick, with the supply base for both processors straddling the border.

Apart from the likelihood that a hard border would make what now is a seamless trading relationship more difficult, it would have knock-on effects on the 200 plus milk processing jobs in this region.

"Probably the worst scenario would be that Britain is forced to leave the European Union without doing a trade deal," he told the Farming Independent this week.

"This would see tariffs and other sorts of barriers emerging which would cause real problems. Farmers here need an open border and any return to the previous border would cause problems for everybody," he said.

"We have two milk processors in the region - LacPatrick and Lakelands - and some 30pc of the milk processed by Lakelands comes from the North of Ireland.

"Any new barriers would impact processing and employment," Brian added.

He also believes that a hard border would have serious implications on the animal health front and recalled how difficult it was for farmers to achieve a brucellosis-free status for the Republic while the herds in the North had the disease under similar control.

"We had gotten on top of the problem in the South but we had to wait for the North to get its brucellosis-free status for the entire area to be recognised as disease-free," he pointed out.

Brian said the huge cooperation on animal welfare issues, which was evident between farmers North and South these days, could be negatively affected if a hard border was reintroduced.

He has no doubts about Britain leaving the EU once the upcoming talks are completed.

Indeed, he described as a "non-runner" the belief held by some of his farming colleagues that the British government would hold a second referendum on the issue.

"Britain will be disengaged from the EU in two years even if it takes another 10 years to re-instate some kind of trade deal between Britain and the EU," he said.

Brian is happy with the manner in which Irish politicians are dealing with the question and believes they are totally up to speed with the finer details of these Brexit negotiations.

However, while Irish and British politicians are aware of the implications of Brexit, Brian is concerned that the hard realities of this development might be lost on some member states in the south and east of the Union.

And they have the same voting rights on whatever deal emerges at the end of this process, he pointed out.

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"This is going to be a long road," he predicted.

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