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Irish farmers sound the alarm over no-deal Brexit

Irish Farmers Association president tells delegation that Brexit still poses a massive threat to Irish farming.

25 May 2020, at 10:42am

Speaking after an IFA delegation met Tanáiste [Deputy Prime Minister] Simon Coveney and Minister Helen McEntee by video conference, IFA President Tim Cullinan said “Brexit is still a massive threat to Irish farming and a no deal crash-out by the UK is a real possibility, if they do not change course”.

“In that scenario, an EU Brexit fund of €1 billion or more would be required in market supports, direct payments to farmers, and long-term structural and adjustment funding with special emphasis on the beef sector,” Tim Cullinan told the Tanáiste.

“The current EU-UK talks are not going in the right direction. The UK government is refusing to commit to a level playing field, based on the high standards demanded by consumers in the areas of food safety, animal health and the environment. In Westminster, they have rejected amendments to their own Agriculture bill that would prevent lower standard food imports into Britain,” he said.

“The UK is clearly hell-bent on pursuing a cheap food policy and in their trade talks with the US they show all the signs of caving in to long-standing US demands on hormone beef, chlorinated chicken and GM products. Meanwhile in the EU talks, the UK is rejecting any extension of the current transition period which ends in seven months’ time on 31st December 2020.”

Tim Cullinan said “We were very clear with the Tanáiste that the current direction of travel would be very damaging for Irish farming and could be Armageddon for the beef sector”.

“Already this year, farmers have been hit hard by the double blow of COVID-19 coming on top of Brexit uncertainty. Farmers have stepped up to ensure EU food security and now agriculture must be included in the EU recovery fund.”

“Winter finishers have been savaged by massive losses, with income cuts also in the dairy and other sectors. The Tanaiste accepted that the COVID-19 EU package was ‘not sufficient yet’ and IFA is insisting that the Government and EU come forward with a much stronger support package including direct payments to compensate livestock farmers for ongoing losses.”

Referring to the 20 May UK proposals on trade from Britain to Northern Ireland, Tim Cullinan said “the EU must resist the UK trying to cut corners on their commitments in the Withdrawal Agreement, which require full SPS checks and customs controls on products entering Northern Ireland ports in order to protect the Single Market. Northern Ireland cannot become a back-door into the EU for the UK’s sub-standard, cheap food imports.”

Also included in the meeting were IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe, Livestock Chair Brendan Golden, Dairy Chair Tom Phelan, Sheep Chair Sean Dennehy and Director General Damian McDonald.