Farmer lead­ers de­mand gloves off ap­proach on Brexit talks

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - LOUISE HO­GAN

EU AND UK ne­go­tia­tors have been urged to get be­yond the “hand­bag stuff ” in the Brexit talks and fo­cus on en­sur­ing a work­able trade deal so that Ire­land can con­tinue to sell beef to Bri­tain.

The call by the ICSA and the IFA fol­lowed a pes­simistic as­sess­ment for the €2.5bn beef sec­tor from Tea­gasc’s Dr Kevin Han­ra­han in the event of Bri­tain ex­it­ing the EU with­out a trade deal be­ing agreed.

Dr Han­ra­han warned that Ire­land would strug­gle to find mar­kets for the 270,000 tonnes of beef cur­rently ex­ported to Bri­tain should 50pc tar­iffs be ap­plied by the Bri­tish on food im­ports from the EU.

He said cow num­bers would col­lapse in such a sce­nario as Ir­ish beef was ef­fec­tively tar­iffed out of the Bri­tish mar­ket and was un­able to grow ex­ports to what he de­scribed as “ma­ture” EU mar­kets.

Mr Kent said Ire­land must be ag­gres­sive in push­ing both the UK and EU sides to get mov­ing on a trade deal.

Th­ese views were echoed by IFA pres­i­dent Joe Healy.

Up­heaval

Cor­mac Healy of Meat In­dus­try Ire­land (MII) said the Tea­gasc find­ings are stark but given their sce­nar­ios they are prob­a­bly “re­al­is­tic”.

He said a “hard Brexit” with no deal and mas­sive tar­iffs would be “dis­as­trous”.

“The same up­heaval to mar­kets would be the ex­pe­ri­ence for pig­meat, sheep­meat and poul­try too,” he said.

Mr Kent said the ab­sence of a trade deal would mean tar­iffs so high as to “elim­i­nate our best mar­ket for 270,000t of beef ”.

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