Agriculture

Tipperary ICMSA leader says ‘not an inch’ Brexit talk not helpful to farmers

Pat McCormack warns over 'air of weary resignation'

Tipperary Star reporter

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Tipperary ICMSA leader says ‘not an inch’ Brexit talk not helpful to farmers

ICMSA president Pat McCormack: 'farmers are already taking the Brexit hit'

Many of the “not an inch” Brexit commentators are very far removed from the reality that will face Irish farming and the wider agri-food sector on Monday 1 April, according to ICMSA president Pat McCormack.

“Their salaries and income will continue uninterrupted and not miss a beat,” said the Tipperary-based leader.

However, he said that it was very different for the farmers producing the milk, beef and other farm products who will be priced out of markets that we have held for decades, if not centuries.

“There’s a world of difference between an executive talking in abstract terms about the damage done to our dairy sector by a no deal Brexit and the farmer getting up to milk the cows to supply the milk to a co-op that made Cheddar for a UK retailer,” he said.

“It’s the difference between knowing that heart disease is a bad thing and feeling a severe thump in your chest,” said the ICMSA president.

Mr McCormack warned that there was an air of weary resignation beginning to grip the mood of Irish farming as attitudes and opinions around events in Westminster seemed to harden on all sides.

Stressing that ICMSA was in no way diverging from the Irish position that there could not be any resumption of a physical border between north and south, the ICMSA president was nevertheless adamant that public statements and not an inch attitudes looked very different depending on how directly linked your family income was to our €5bn worth of food exports to the UK.

While he was not questioning the right of Irish policymakers to decide our national interests, as a farmer and as the leader of a farm organisation, he was struck by how resolute and calm certain people seem to be about the prospect of a no deal Brexit.

Mr McCormack said that the Government could count on farmers to stand with them in the national interest but, at the same time, it was time that the Government and the EU showed that they understood that for Irish farmers this was literally a matter of economic survival and not some marketing or passing economic “hiccup”.

“Let us be very clear. Farmers selling calves, weanlings, stores and finished cattle are already suffering Brexit-related losses and there isn’t a word from our national or EU politicians on what they are going to do to support these farmers.

“Farmers need answers, and they need them now because they are already taking the Brexit hit”, he said