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Green Pages Feed Trade Topics from the Island of Ireland

BREXIT – UNITED WE STAND: DIVIDED WE FALL Agribusiness and farming organisations must join forces with the food industry to speak with one voice as the Brexit negotiations get under way, according to Agricultural Industries Confederation AIC chief executive David Caffall. Speaking at a recent meeting of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association in Belfast Mr Caffall said. “Unless the whole industry works together we won’t even

feature in the planning process. While agri-food is big business in Northern Ireland – it represents a very small part of the overall UK economy and is in danger of being overlooked in favour of other, more powerful sectors”. AIC have been active in bringing together an alliance of all the

trades which supply goods and services to farmers and hope to coalesce with other like-minded bodies to create a single powerful voice which can have influence – not just at the DEFRA table but with David Davis, Liam Fox and even the Chancellor. “Given the global nature of our supply chains it is vital that we fight hard to ensure that trade flows are not disrupted in the deals which are done around the Brexit table”. Since its inception AIC has always been focussed on Brussels

based regulation and this remains a priority while the UK continues in membership of the EU. This is still vitally important work and AIC staff will continue to lobby on all relevant legislation being developed. “We must also look forward however and despite limited

information from Government we have been busy identifying the priorities in terms of legislation which needs to be implemented from day one when the Great Repeal Bill is activated. “This is doubling the workload and will put us under

considerable pressure in the months ahead but it is essential that our staff and members are available to the relevant government departments given the vast expertise we can bring to bear on the issues of trade and regulation,” said Mr Caffall.

BREXIT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THAT IRISH AGRICULTURE HAS FACED IN 50 YEARS Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) President Joe Healy believes the biggest threat to Irish agriculture in half a century is the impact of the Brexit negotiations on farm incomes. Speaking at the organisation’s 2017 annual meeting he said that with 40% of Ireland’s food exports going to the UK, no other Member State and no other sector is as exposed in these negotiations.

He added: “Agriculture and food cannot become a battleground

between Brussels and London. There are too many farm livelihoods and jobs at stake. Politics cannot be allowed override our fundamental economic interests. “The Irish Government must use the strong relationship it has

with both EU and UK leaders to influence a constructive approach to these difficult negotiations. In Brussels, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, must make the retention of free trade in agriculture and food products between the EU and UK a priority. In the short term, uncertainty has led to the weakening of sterling putting serious pressure on prices and exports. “Let’s be clear: it is farmers who have taken most of the pain

resulting from the weakness of sterling. “Politicians in Dublin and Brussels cannot ignore the ongoing

impact of the sterling devaluation, and direct aid for the farmers and sectors affected must be on the agenda.” For his part, Irish agriculture minister Michael Creed has said

that the continuation of the current trading relationships between the UK and Ireland is a priority. He spoke after a recent meeting with his London counterpart Andrea Leadsom. “I believe that, given the high levels of agri-food trade between

Ireland and the UK and the highly integrated nature of that trade, it is in both our interests to maintain the existing relationship to the maximum extent possible.” In the course of their discussions both Ministers acknowledged

the long tradition of trade in agri-food between the two countries, and agreed that they wanted this to continue. They discussed their respective Departments’ preparations to date, and the approaches being taken from a whole-of-Government viewpoint. They noted where the main challenges are likely to arise, including in relation to how tariff and other trade issues will be dealt with in the post-exit relationship, the practical difficulties associated with possible border controls and certification requirements and the particular challenges presented from a North-South perspective. Creed welcomed what he regarded as the acknowledgment by London of the shared issues both countries face, and Leadsom’s assurance that the interests of the agri-food and fisheries sectors are a key priority for her in the upcoming negotiations. “We have agreed there will be a process of regular consultation

as the situation in relation to Brexit unfolds. I look forward to continuing engagement at both political and official levels over the coming months in the interests of securing the best possible outcome for the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors,” he said.


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