Brexit

Agriculture 'must top Irish Government's Brexit talks'

Tipperary Star reporter

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Agriculture 'must top Irish Government's Brexit talks'

IFA president Joe Healy

The implications for Irish agriculture under Brexit are so serious that farming has to be first in the Government’s negotiating position, according to IFA president Joe Healy.

The threat of Brexit is the most significant challenge facing our farming and food sector in the history of the State, with 40% of our food exports going to the UK, he said at the launch of the IFA policy. Brexit: The Imperatives for Irish Farmers and the Agri-Food Sector.

“No other member state and no other sector is as exposed in these negotiations. The UK is our closest market, of high value with similar preferences. The implications of a hard Brexit are stark: the ESRI estimates a potential reduction of EU trade to the UK of over 60 per cent for dairy and 85 per cent for meat. Translating this to an Irish context would mean a fall of €1.5bn in meat exports, with dairy exports falling by over €600m,” said the IFA leader.

Mr Healy said IFA is clear that farming and food must be top of the Brexit agenda, not only in Ireland, but at EU level.

“With 22 million farmers and 40 million related jobs, there is a wider strategic objective here to maximise the future value of the EU farming and food sector,” he said.

According to Mr Healy, 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.

Meanwhile, Elaine Farrell has been appointed IFA’s Brexit co-ordinator for the campaign. The organisation will hold a one-day Brexit event in Goffs, County Kildare, on Monday, April 24, where the speakers will include, among others, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.