Monday 26 August 2019

Farmers face serious threat

Brexit impact

IFA President Joe Healy
IFA President Joe Healy

Brendan Keane

Brexit is the most serious threat to farming in Ireland since the foundation of the state.

That's the view expressed by the Irish Farmers' Association, which has said there are clear objectives that must be delivered to secure the interests of Ireland's vital agri-food sector going forward.

Retention of tariff-free access to the UK market is one of the key priorities the organisation says must be at the heart of Brexit negotiations.

It has also expressed concern at the potential disruption to trade flows between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Such is the concern over the introduction of tariffs that the IFA has said that if such measures are introduced especially with regard to exports to the UK that it could make the agri-food industry uneconomic.

In a statement on its website, the IFA has said the value of EU agri-food exports cannot be undermined by an increase in low-cost food imports into the UK market.

The organisation said that the optimum outcome for the Irish farming sector would be the UK remaining in the customs union, but if that is not possible it said the EU must negotiate a comprehensive free-trade agreement between the EU and the UK which would include tariff-free trade for agricultural products and food; maintenance or equivalent standards on food safety, animal health, welfare and the environment; and application of the common external tariff for imports to the EU and the UK.

IFA president Joe Healy said the Brexit talks are the most important negotiations for the future of Irish agriculture.

Speaking at an IFA council meeting, Mr Healy said the intention of the UK to pursue an independent trade policy would make it impossible to retain the kind of 'frictionless trade' that exists today.

'This would open the door to Britain competing directly with the EU in future trade deals, undercutting EU import tariffs and granting additional import quotas,' he said.

Mr Healy also said the UK's proposal for a 'common rulebook' only relates to border checks and falls far short of 'full regulatory alignment with EU standards'.

He said the IFA's concern is that the UK is aiming to avoid compliance with EU regulations and standards relating to marketing, labelling, pesticides, food fraud and other CAP requirements in ways that would UK producers a clear advantage over EU and Irish producers which would be unacceptable.

Gorey Guardian