Brexit agreement: ‘We have to use it to re-energise our sector’

The Brexit agreement reached between the EU and UK has to be welcomed – and the challenge must now be to re-energise the Irish agricultural sector, should this deal get through the House of Commons, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

ICMSA president Pat McCormack said that there is a new atmosphere of certainty and positivity to replace the negativity that has developed due partly to Brexit around Irish farming and food.

McCormack said that, after the population of the UK itself, the people most psychologically exhausted and worn down by Brexit are Irish farmers.

These, the president added, have had the matter weighing on their minds constantly and “have paid a very heavy price financially to date – particularly in the beef sector”.

“We always have to remember that whatever comes out of this hoped-for agreement, it will categorically not be as smooth and seamless as the conditions we have now with the UK as a member state.”

However, the president noted that Irish farmers “at least will have some idea of the business landscape we’ll be traversing and the agreement will bring a level of certainty and stability”.

“Any certainty, any degree of predictability, is so welcome after these three years of daily confusion and anxiety that we must welcome it – albeit in the knowledge that there is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’.

But the ICMSA is convinced that we have to take what good is available and now go forward; we have to take the relief and certainty and, insofar as it’s possible, we have to use it to re-energise our sector.

McCormack added that this would mean bringing some focus to the “questions that, perhaps understandably, we have ‘parked’ for the last three years”.

“Hopefully, this deal will be approved by the House of Commons and, if approved, then it will be time to get back to our business and start working again in the knowledge that the worst has been averted,” the president concluded.