Ul­ster farm­ers warn of ‘dis­as­trous’ Brexit fall­out north and south

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - DECLAN O’BRIEN CAP mea­sures needed to weather-proof sheds — INHFA

THE Ul­ster Farm­ers’ Union (UFU) has warned of “dis­as­trous” con­se­quences for farm­ing in North­ern Ire­land should the UK crash out of the EU.

The UFU’s com­ments fol­low pub­li­ca­tion of the lat­est tech­ni­cal pa­pers from the Bri­tish govern­ment on a ‘no deal’ exit.

Fears that an ad­min­is­tra­tive trade em­bargo on food and drink be­tween the EU and UK has also sparked mas­sive con­cerns.

UFU pres­i­dent Ivor Fer­gu­son de­scribed the ‘no deal’ pa­pers as “com­pletely un­ac­cept­able” to farm­ers in the North.

“The pa­pers con­firm what we al­ready knew: a ‘no deal’ Brexit is bad for farm­ing,” he said.

“The lat­est no­tices in­clude one which re­lates to the ex­port of an­i­mals and an­i­mal prod­ucts and sug­gests we would face a cliff-edge sce­nario if we leave the EU with no deal.

“This is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able and would be dis­as­trous for farm­ing in North­ern Ire­land, par­tic­u­larly for our sheep in­dus­try, and for the econ­omy.”

Mean­while, sug­ges­tions from EU of­fi­cials that the UK faces a six-month wait to be cer­ti­fied as an ap­proved third-coun­try sup­plier of food and drink in a ‘no deal’ Brexit sce­nario has com­pounded farm­ers’ fears across Bri­tain and North­ern Ire­land.

The Na­tional Farm­ers’ Union (NFU) has es­ti­mated that meat pro­cess­ing plants in Bri­tain and North­ern Ire­land that CAP schemes such as TAMS should in­clude ac­tions aimed at weather-proof­ing farm sheds to counter the grow­ing fe­roc­ity and in­ci­dence of storms, the Ir­ish Natura and Hill Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (INHFA) has claimed.

“The wide­spread dam­age caused by the ‘Beast from the East’ last March and Storm Ali re­cently high­lights the ur­gent need to up­grade sheds that were orig­i­nally built in the 1970s and 1980s,” said INHFA di­rec­tor Vin­cent Roddy.

“This is par­tic­u­larly the case for sheds with lean-tos. We saw in­stances this spring where these col­lapsed un­der the weight of snow.

“The in­sur­ance in­dus­try should be push­ing the Govern­ment on this, be­cause it’s a farm safety is­sue re­ally. cur­rently ex­port to the EU will have to un­dergo in­di­vid­ual au­dits by Bri­tish and EU au­thor­i­ties in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Such a process will take around six months, the NFU es­ti­mate, and will have to be repli­cated for all UK-based com­pa­nies sup­ply­ing food and drink to the EU.

Em­bargo

“What we are talk­ing about in ef­fect is a six-month trade em­bargo un­til such time as we can get the prod­uct in, from that point we will face the Euro­pean’s ex­ter­nal tar­iff wall — mean­ing we will be priced out of the mar­ket,” said the NFU’s di­rec­tor gen­eral, Terry Jones.

It has been sug­gested that the Bri­tish govern­ment has Getting these sheds up­graded is in ev­ery­body’s in­ter­est.”

The INHFA want the 50pc grant aid un­der TAMS to be ex­tended to the re-roof­ing and strength­en­ing of roofs on older sheds and farm build­ings; and the strength­en­ing and main­te­nance of walls on ex­ist­ing sheds and build­ings.

The hill farmer body rec­om­mended the main­te­nance of all the safety mea­sures cur­rently in place, but it has called for the min­i­mum spend to be re­duced from the cur­rent level of €2,000 to €500.

It also wants pay­ments to farm­ers to be made on a phased ba­sis.

“In or­der to make it more ac­ces­si­ble to smaller farm­ers, we are rec­om­mend­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of phased plans in place to al­low goods en­ter the UK with­out checks and at re­duced tar­iff rates.

The EU could in­tro­duce emer­gency leg­is­la­tion to keep food from Bri­tain flow­ing, but such a de­ci­sion is un­likely to be taken ahead of the UK’s exit.

Any dis­rup­tion in trade be­tween the UK and EU has mas­sive im­pli­ca­tions for both farm­ers and pro­ces­sors on both sides of the Ir­ish border.

Meat fac­to­ries in the south slaugh­ter 370,000 sheep and lambs from the North each year, while dairies in the Repub­lic process around 800m litres of milk pro­duced in North­ern Ire­land.

Sim­i­larly, North­ern slaugh­ter plants process a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of pigs from the South. pay­ments made when the project has reached cer­tain mile­stones. And, if re­quired, upfront fund­ing to farm­ers that can’t ac­quire loan fa­cil­i­ties,” said Mr Roddy.

Mean­while, the INHFA would also like to see sheep-fenc­ing mea­sures and a lim­ing sub­sidy in­cluded for 40pc grant aid.

“With re­gard to erect­ing sheep fenc­ing and the re­quire­ment for farm­ers on Natura land or along a shore­line to seek plan­ning per­mis­sion, a pro­vi­sion needs to be made to cover the full cost of this plan­ning,” Mr Roddy said.

“This pro­vi­sion should be in ad­di­tion to the ex­ist­ing grant.

“And where a max­i­mum grant limit has been set, this should not form part of that limit.”

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