‘Brexit must not undermine Irish dairy’ – MEP

Brexit cannot be allowed to undermine the dairy sector on the island, according to MEP Mairead McGuinness

The First Vice-President of the European was at the Virginia Agricultural Show in Co. Cavan today (Wednesday, August 22), where she presented the Diageo Baileys Champion Winner crown to the stand-out entry, Drumlin Attwood Megan.

The newly-crowned champ is owned by the Boyd/Greenan/O’Neill/Moore partnership

Also Read: ‘Megan’ goes one better as Diageo Baileys Champion Dairy Cow is crowned

Commenting on the event, McGuinness said: “The competition – a magnet for all who are interested in dairy farming – highlights how exclusive and luxury products have their origins on farms where cows are cared for so that they can produce the quality of cream required.

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Image source: Diageo Baileys Cow

“It’s an excellent example of consistently high quality from sustainable dairy farms,” she said, congratulating “Megan”, as well as all the participants.

The MEP said it has been a difficult year for all farmers, with drought hitting grass production and fodder shortages being experienced on many livestock farms.

She added that the situation is not confined to Ireland but is Europe-wide and will be discussed next week when the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee meets.

“If these erratic weather patterns persist, we may need to rethink our approach to our farming systems and we may also need to review upwards the budgetary resources necessary to support European agriculture through the CAP,” she said.

Brexit worries

Referring to Brexit, she said that, with just 219 days to Brexit and a heightened level of worry and uncertainty across a myriad of sectors, including agriculture and food, negotiations are set to become more intense.

“I welcome the necessary focus on getting an agreement – this week is particularly important and again today discussions continue between the EU and the UK.

“Completion of the withdrawal agreement is essential, as is reaching an agreement on the framework of the future relationship. Both are important for the island of Ireland, our farmers and our dairy and drinks industry.

There are some key outstanding issues in the withdrawal agreement. The backstop for the border is one.

“But also important for our dairy and drinks industry is the protection of geographical indications, which are important for Irish products like Irish cream liqueur.

“On the future relationship, EU negotiator Michel Barnier has consistently spelled out the EU position on maintaining the integrity of the single market – so important for our agricultural products – while reaching an ambitious agreement with the UK,” she said

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