IRELAND – IFA President Joe Healy emphasised the need for Government to use its strong relationships with EU and UK leaders to influence a constructive approach to Brexit negotiations with Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed at the IFA Annual General Meeting on Tuesday evening.
The impact of Brexit was among a number of key farming issues under discussion with the Minister.
The IFA President has said that the signal by Prime Minister Theresa May that the UK intends to exit the single market is a major cause of concern to Irish farmers with the potential to seriously damage trade with the UK.
“With 40 per cent of Irish food exports going to the UK, no other member state and no other sector are as exposed in the Brexit negotiations. Already, Irish farmers have taken most of the pain resulting from the weakness of sterling as a result of Brexit. Beef farmers took a hit of €150m last year from this alone and mushroom growers saw their margins wiped out.”
The IFA President warned that politics cannot be allowed to override fundamental economic interests, and farmers expect the Minister and Irish Government to use the strong relationship they have with both EU and UK leaders to influence a constructive approach. He said the retention of free trade in agriculture and food products between the EU and UK must be a priority.
Mr Healy also warned against any reduction in the CAP budget as a result of Brexit, saying if EU solidarity means anything, then the budget shortfall must be made good so that farmers are not hit with CAP cuts when the UK leaves.