The Government and EU Brexit position has to put farming first.
That was the clear message from the President of the Irish Farmers Association Joe Healy who was speaking today at the launch of the IFA’s Brexit policy in Dublin today.
Joe Healy said 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 farmers expect our Government to launch a major diplomatic offensive at EU level that places our issues at the heart of the negotiations.
“Simply put, no other Member State and no other sector is as exposed in these negotiations. UK is our closet 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% for dairy and 85% 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.”
Joe 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.”