‘Major’ IFA Brexit conference just days away

A range of political leaders, at both Irish and EU level, and key stakeholders in the Irish farming and food sector are set to discuss the implications of Brexit at a major IFA conference.

The conference, titled ‘Brexit: The Imperatives for Irish Farmers and the Agri-Food Sector’, is set to take place on Monday, April 24, at Goffs in Kill, Co. Kildare.

The event is set to get underway at 10am; it will comprise of a mixture of keynote speakers and panel discussions.

It is expected that the speakers at the event will set out the critical areas for Ireland in the negotiations and what must be delivered to secure the interests of the farming and agri-food sectors in the future.

Brexit presents the most serious threat to both Irish farming and the agri-food sector in the history of the state, according to the IFA President Joe Healy.

“With 40% of our food exports going to the UK, no other member state and no other sector is as exposed in these negotiations.

The short-term uncertainty has led to the depreciation of Sterling, putting serious pressure on Irish farmgate prices and exports.

“The UK is a high-value market, sharing similar consumer preferences with Irish consumers. Irish farmers and processors have developed systems of production and specifications to match market requirements in the UK.

“Ireland is the only member state to share a land border with the UK, and every year thousands of animals and huge volumes of agricultural produce cross that border with Northern Ireland for further finishing or for processing – as part of a complex supply chain.

“These trading links have built up over many years and are critically important for farmers and processors on both sides of the border,” Healy said.

Key speakers

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, will give the keynote address; focusing on the EU’s negotiation position.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, will speak about securing the interests of Irish farmers.

The imperatives for Irish farmers in the negotiations will be explored by the IFA President, Joe Healy.

Two panel discussions are also scheduled to take place, focusing on the best course of action for Irish farmers and the agri-food sector – as well as at EU level.

Some of the panelists will include Mairead McGuinness; First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Tara McCarthy; CEO of Bord Bia, Kevin Lane; CEO of Ornua and Niall Browne; CEO of Dawn Meats – to name a few.

A number of IFA representatives will also take part in the discussions.