Brexit is the greatest threat to Irish farming in our lifetimes and there is a huge responsibility on Irish, EU and UK politicians to get the negotiations right, IFA President Joe Healy said today.
The IFA President was speaking at a major IFA event attended by more than 800 farmers and addressed by EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed as well as farming and agri-food industry representatives.
Joe Healy said, “The livelihoods of thousands of farm families and the future of the agriculture and food industry are at stake in Brexit negotiations. Commissioner Hogan, Minister Creed and the Irish Government must ensure that farming and agri-food issues are top of the EU’s Brexit agenda. This is about Europe showing its commitment to Irish farming, and Ireland’s farmers expect politicians to deliver.”
The IFA has identified three key priorities to safeguard Irish agriculture in Brexit negotiations:
the closest possible trading relationship between the EU and the UK;
the value of the UK market must be maintained;
and a fully-funded CAP must be secured.
Joe Healy reiterated the importance of agriculture to the Irish economy saying, “Farming and food generates economic activity in every parish, village and town across Ireland, supporting 300,000 jobs directly and indirectly.
“The implications of Brexit for Ireland are clear – and they are stark. Ireland is the most exposed EU Member State, and with 40%, or €4bn of our agri-food exports going to the UK each year, agriculture is the most exposed sector.
Joe Healy warned, “The value of our exports cannot be undermined by an increase in low cost food imports into the UK market or by imports that do not meet the high food safety, animal welfare, health and environmental standards that are required of EU producers.
“Any Free Trade Agreement must include the maintenance of European standards and the UK’s acceptance of the European Common External Tariff to protect the UK market against low cost imports from outside the EU,” Joe Healy insisted.
On Thursday this week, Joe Healy will travel to Brussels to build support among farm leaders from across Europe for IFA’s campaign.
As part of the campaign, Joe Healy has already met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, and the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier to brief them on the priorities for agriculture set out in IFA’s policy document: Brexit – The Imperatives for Irish Farmers and the Agri-Food Sector.