Brexit negotiations on farm incomes is the biggest threat to Irish farming in half a century said Joe Healy, President of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) at the recent 62nd annual general meeting.
Joe Healy said that with 40% of our food exports going to the UK, no other member state and no other sector is as exposed in these negotiations.
According to Healy: “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.”
Healy also highlighted that farmers may expect the Taoiseach and the Irish Government to use the strong relationship they have with both EU and UK leaders to influence a constructive approach to these difficult negotiations.
Healy added: “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.”
He also emphasized that politicians in Dublin and Brussels cannot ignore the ongoing impact of the sterling devaluation. He also suggested direct aid for farmers and other businesses in this sector needs to be considered.
Farmers have taken most of the pain resulting from the weakness of sterling. “Beef farmers took a hit of €150m last year from this alone and mushroom growers saw their margins wiped out. These losses are a direct result of a political decision outside farmers’ control and cannot be tolerated,” he said.
© 2017 - Checkout Magazine by Donna Ahern