UK farmers smarting at €100m support fund for Irish beef trade


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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

British farmers claim the €100m support scheme for Irish beef could disrupt the trade in the UK.

British beef farmers are reeling from poor returns which have seen beef prices fall 44p/kg since the end of September the biggest fall since 2014.

Beef farmers are facing pressure from a perfect storm of low demand, high supplies in stock and increased volumes being processed.

Speaking to the Farmers Guardian last week, UK National Farmers Union Livestock Chair Richard Findlay said more needs to be done to support the nation's beef farmers.

"We feel the government should be making the same case the Irish government did.

"We have a market disruption. You could argue that the Irish beef package could be a part of more disruption," he said.

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised that the UK Government  may struggle to pass legislation to protect the British market against a flood of cheap imports in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Minister's in Boris Johnson's administration are being warned that unless they can pass specific new laws through a hostile House of Commons, the UK will have no legal basis on which to levy protective tariffs in the event of a no-deal.

Farm organisations in the UK have warned that failure to pass the necessary legislation would leave UK farmers "defenceless" against waves of cheap global food ­imports.

The UK Government is preparing to table a series of "statutory instruments" to enable tariffs to be levied.

However, it is not clear if MPs will be prepared to back the measures and potentially facilitate a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this year as part of its no-deal Brexit contingency planning the UK outlined that tariffs would apply to 13pc of goods going to the UK, including key products from our agri-food sector - beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy products.

For Ireland's most vulnerable sector, beef, the UK proposals suggest tariffs ranging from approximately €1,500/tonne on manufacturing beef (mince) up to over €2,500/t on steak exports.

This would represent an approximate 45pc increase in the price of Irish mince and a 20-25pc increase in the price of Irish steaks for consumers in the UK.

The proposed tariff of €221/t on cheddar will see Irish cheese having to shoulder an annual tariff in the region of €200m. The €22m proposed tariff on Irish butter could also increase significantly, as a range of other costs inflate this figure.

Irish Independent