Tim Cullinan: Irish farming 'on the cusp of Armageddon'
With the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier setting this Wednesday as D-Day for a trade deal with the UK, IFA president Tim Cullinan has warned that Irish farming is “on the cusp of Armageddon”.
“These talks cannot fail. If we have a no-deal Brexit it will be the end of the Irish beef sector,” said told the EU Agricultural Committee this week.
The Toomevara farmer said that said a Brexit outcome, which either reduced access for those products to the UK market or made their continued sale into that market uneconomic, will be disastrous for European farming and the livelihoods of farmers, particularly from Ireland.
Referring to the ongoing difficulties in reaching an agreement, he said the exit of the UK from the EU without a deal would undoubtedly lead to significant trade disruption and a lose-lose situation for the entire agri-food chain.
“Burdensome and unavoidable procedures, such as official controls of goods, SPS inspections, veterinary certificates and import tariffs will lead to increased delays for checks at borders and raise the costs for both sides,” he said.
Mr Cullinan set out six key measures that are needed to safeguard Irish and European agriculture:
- We want the EU and the UK to maintain the closest possible trading relationship, but the EU Single Market must be protected
- It is essential to maintain a level playing field with corresponding standards on food safety, animal health and welfare and the environment
- We want to avoid burdensome delays such as control of goods and sanitary and phytosanitary inspections and veterinary certificates which will lead to delays at borders and increase costs for both sides.
- Access to the UK market must be tariff-free and quota-free
- There must be no return by the UK to a cheap food policy
- European Agri sector is a priority for support from the €5bn Brexit Adjustment Reserve.
The IFA president said Mr Barnier and his team must continue to pursue an outcome that retains the closest possible trading relationship with the UK.
“The intense discussions to secure a deal must continue, but we must also prepare for the post-Brexit scenario. In that regard, the Irish Government must ensure that Irish farmers are top of the queue for the €5bn EU Brexit fund,” he said.