Beef sector facing ‘€800 million direct hard Brexit hit’ – IFA

A hard Brexit would devastate Ireland’s beef and livestock sector to the tune of some €800 million annually, according to Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy.

Healy was speaking at an IFA lobby of TDs and senators on the beef crisis in Dublin today, highlighting the devastating impact such a scenario would have on the sector, worth approximately €3 billion.

“The IFA estimates the imposition of WTO tariffs in a hard Brexit will impose a direct cost on the beef sector of €800 million per year,” the president said.

Healy added that, while the Government and other sectors are talking about preparing for Brexit, beef farmers are already counting their losses.

Cattle prices are down €100 per head on this time last year, he said, noting that Brexit uncertainty and the weakness of sterling have already hit hard on beef prices and farm incomes.

“The income situation on beef and livestock farms is at crisis point. The latest independent data from Teagasc shows farm incomes are down 16% in 2018 and incomes on cattle are between €10,175 and €15,412.”

IFA representatives from across the country assembled in Dublin today and lobbied TD and senators from their constituencies on the beef crisis.

Proposals including an EU Brexit Emergency Support Package were presented to politicians by the organisation today, demanding urgent action in addressing the issues surrounding beef and Brexit.

IFA National Livestock Committee chairman Angus Woods also spoke, adding that the IFA has requested that, for every 5c/kg change on the price, Minister Creed needs to secure €20/head additional direct payment compensation.

Woods said IFA has met with EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan and senior EU Commission officials in Brussels in recent weeks and put forward a strong case for a Brexit aid package for Irish beef.

The IFA also met with senior officials in the Department of Agriculture on EU supports and other measures needed for the beef and livestock sector.