Tim Cullinan: Brexit deal a 'relief, but will still cause difficulties'
The deal reached between the EU and the UK is a relief, but it will pose significant difficulties for the Irish agri-food sector, according to IFA president Tim Cullinan.
“The work of the two sides to avoid a no-deal has to be acknowledged, particularly after four years of damaging uncertainty which had an impact on farm incomes. However, the eventual outcome leaves little reason to celebrate,” he said.
The Toomevara farmer commended the work of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier for his patience and perseverance in pursuit of an outcome that steered away from a crash-out situation.
“We have real concerns about how non-tariff barriers will impact on our ability to keep trade flows moving. The scenes at Dover this week, with hundreds of trucks backed up and freight delayed, does not bode well. Green Lanes have been implemented previously for food exports. These must be prioritised after January 1”, he said.
The IFA leader said that the Government and the EU must have the €400m support fund for Irish farmers ready in the new year to address any market disturbance. The €5bn EU Brexit adjustment fund must also be available.
Mr Cullinan also said the longer-term implication for our food exports could be the flooding of the UK market by cheap imports.
“Farmers here on the island of Ireland and in the UK are steadfast in their view of standards. The danger is that the deal isn’t robust enough to ensure the regulations of the Single Market are adhered to,” he said
Pointing out that the UK agenda is to offer access to their food market to Australia, New Zealand Canada, the US and the Mercosur countries of South America in exchange for trade deals with those countries, he said that if that happened, then the value of the UK market for Irish food exports will be cut and Irish farmers will suffer.