Coveney to speak at North Tipp IFA online AGM tonight

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will be guest speaker at the North Tipperary Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) County Executive annual general meeting (AGM) tonight (Tuesday, January 12).

Set to take place at 8:00pm tonight, the AGM will be held online, using the Microsoft Teams platform.

IFA officers have confirmed that the meeting will be open to guests from 7:00pm onward to facilitate guests who are not familiar with logging into Microsoft Teams meetings.

The virtual event will not be confined to Tipperary IFA members; farmers across the country are welcome to log in.

Minister Coveney – also a former agricultural minister – will give a speech at the event, with a question and answer session taking place afterwards.

Speaking ahead of tonight’s meeting, North Tipperary IFA chairwoman Imelda Walsh said:

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be having Minister Coveney joining us. I believe we’re among the first to actually hear from the meeting ‘in person’ in relation to Brexit since the deal was completed on December 24.

I’m hoping there will be a good turnout tonight to hear the minister because it affects all of us – and it’s great to hear first-hand what’s in place to manage the many challenges that are only starting to surface at this moment in time.

Commenting on Brexit, Walsh said: “It will be interesting to hear from the minister how all of this is actually going to pan out. We have a trade deal – but already we see huge problems occurring in relation to product in particular coming from the UK into Ireland, regarding administration and the paperwork surrounding it.

“We hear of trucks being turned back at ports; particularly on the UK side, and delays in relation to a lot of things.

“From our perspective in Ireland it’s how is all of this going to work? The first thing that will come up for many of us as farmers is how calves will be shipped onto the continent in the Netherlands, and using the landbridge in the UK.

“Obviously that is the preferred option to shipping calves because of the times on trucks, so that needs to continue.

There’s also a lot of worry out there as to how smoothly things are actually going to run. It’s not going to be the same as it was this time last year; there are going to be challenges.

“We need to be assured and reassured that Europe is going to help to smooth over all of these difficulties that are going to arise because of the situation we’re in.

“We have a deal – but what guarantees have we in relation to the UK if they decide in six or 12 months’ time that they are going to bring in a product from other countries – particularly in relation to South American countries.

“That could make us uncompetitive, particularly with our beef industry.

“In north Tipperary we have agribusiness such as Abbey Machinery in Nenagh – a lot of their product will be going to the UK. I’ve spoken with [Abbey CEO] Clodagh Kavanagh; while the company is relieved that we have no tariffs, there are still going to be issues – it won’t be business as usual.

There are going to be challenges that need to be ironed out. We’re hoping the minister will be able to advise us as to how much work is being done at European level and by his own team.

“In fairness they’ve done fantastic work – what we saw in December in Dover brought into sharp focus the need to have a trade deal.”