The UK’s announcement to trigger Article 50 before the end of March 2017 is a signal to forget the wishful thinking, according to the ICSA President Patrick Kent.
The ICSA leader said more engagement is needed at Government level prior to the article being activated.
“We now need to deal with this reality check and realise that it’s game on for Brexit. All strategies now have to be adapted to this,” he said.
Expansion of livestock production must come to a halt until the meat industry starts to deliver real results in diversifying exports, he said.
Despite all the hype, we have made only a tiny impact on the US market with beef exports so far, and China and other Asian markets still have to be conquered.
“We also want to see real engagement now at government level with our EU partners to ensure that every effort is made to keep trade with the UK tariff free.
“Soundings emerging from the Tory conference are alarming in that the mood seems to be leaning towards a hard Brexit which essentially makes the prospect of keeping trade tariff free that bit harder,” he said.
Brexit also poses difficult questions surrounding the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in terms of trade and future border arrangements, he said.
ICSA had already outlined concerns to European Commission chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, he said, and it is vital that the Government meets with him as soon as possible.
He also said that every effort needs to be made to keep friendly dialogue open with the UK Government and with Northern Ireland so that agriculture emerges in the best possible shape from Brexit negotiations.
It is clear that this is going to be a very big challenge for Ireland and no effort can be spared to battle for our vital national interests.