Brexit: ICMSA meets Creed to discuss ‘complete absence of details’

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) met with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed yesterday evening to discuss the evolving situation that is Brexit.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack is also scheduled to meet European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan next Thursday for the same purpose.

During talks with Minister Creed, McCormack noted that it is “all but impossible” to see a path forward at present that could meet our two-fold priorities: no hard border; and the continuation of tariff-free trade with British markets.

He also expressed disappointment that, to date, farmers had been left in a vacuum where they have already suffered heavy losses in calves, weanlings, stores and finished cattle without any help from Government, despite promises of an aid package.

The president noted that there has been a complete absence of details on the funding that will be available to support the most exposed sector of the economy and the one that is already suffering Brexit-related losses.

“From the day after the Brexit referendum in 2016 and right forward to today, Ireland has had two strategic objectives: Firstly, no re-imposition of a hard border.

“Secondly – and in the ICMSA’s view, just as important – a post-Brexit trading arrangement between the EU and the UK that was as close to the present arrangements as possible.

“Those are the two things we needed the day after the result was declared, and they’re still the two overriding objectives that just have to be secured.

Three days before the original departure date, neither has been secured and, though this is not Ireland’s fault, it is most certainly Ireland’s reality.

McCormack gave a reminder that there are huge areas of Ireland where farming and food production is not a component of the economy, but rather the total economy.

“This kind of threat to that farming and food production sector is, effectively, a threat to the economic survival of very significant parts of the rural hinterland,” said McCormack.

The ICMSA president said that, in addition to Brexit, CAP 2020, climate and carbon policy and the present situation of the calf trade were also discussed.

Concluding, McCormack said that whatever happens Irish farming and food must never allow itself again to become hostage to a “political pantomime” mounted in a foreign market, even one as close and as valuable as Britain.