Dairy chiefs table 13 recommendations to protect sector from hard Brexit

Representatives from Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) met with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, last week in an effort to address how the dairy sector – on both sides of the border – would be exposed as a result of high tariffs and regulatory barriers in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

In the event of such a scenario, DII has warned of the “potential” for major trade and economic disruption to farmers and the industry as a whole.

At last week’s meeting DII presented the minister with a list outlining 13 recommendations to protect the sector.

Some of its chief propositions included: a transition and freeze on the imposition of tariffs even in a no-deal scenario; retaining the status quo on origin labelling for milk; clearance for the inward and outward processing of milk on both sides of the border; and supports to ensure issues around exports, transport and veterinary are streamlined.

DII also sought the following:
  • Companies be allowed to claim VAT as an input credit at the same time as declaring their liability in order to minimise cashflow needs;
  • Introduction of trade support measures;
  • Introduction of direct supports for dairy processors looking to re-tool and re-invest in plant and machinery;
  • Avoidance of regulatory divergence in standards to ensure unhindered entry of product into UK, EU and world markets;
  • Farmers receive direct income aid in the event of sterling depreciation following a no-deal Brexit;
  • Structural and adjustment support measures for farmers where necessary;
  • A multi-annual framework for funding Brexit mitigation within a temporary EU state aid framework;
  • Introduction of an enterprise stabilisation fund;
  • And the introduction of additional marketing and innovation supports for companies looking to reformulate, repackage or innovate their product lines for new markets.

Speaking to AgriLand after the meeting, Conor Mulvihill, director of DII warned that “robust contingencies” must be implemented.

“This will have implications on commercial dairy trade north and south, east and west, and internationally.

“The dairy industry is absolutely fundamental to rural life. Robust contingencies have to be put in place to maintain trade flows that have created wealth and employment for farm families across the island for generations,” he said.

Countdown

Meanwhile, with less than 60 days remaining until the UK’s departure day from the European Union on March 29, Mulvihill remains hopeful that the UK Government will deliver a deal that will “work for all people in the UK, Ireland and across Europe”.

“There is no clear path out of the political mess created.

We deeply regret the whole Brexit process; it is something the vast majority of the people of this island, and the dairy industry here, do not want.

Mulvihill went on to say the dairy processing industry was “working positively” with the Government, and in particular, with Minister Creed and his team, on all the issues that had come to the fore.

“We have attempted to bring a positive, solutions-based approach to ensure minimum disruption across a range of political scenarios.

“We completely support the Government’s position of implementing the withdrawal agreement on the table, and no border on the island of Ireland,” he concluded.

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