‘Hard Brexit is doomsday for farmers’ – McAleer

Independent reports by the Irish Institute of European Affairs (IIEA) and the Department of Economy confirm that a hard Brexit will be a doomsday scenario for Irish farming and all-Ireland trade, Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has said.

The West Tyrone MLA commented on the scenario, stating:

“It will come as no surprise that two independent reports illustrated the ‘doomsday scenario’ facing the agriculture sector with ‘profound and long-lasting impact on the economy and society’.

The IIEA report highlights that farming in the north will be extremely vulnerable given that the agri-food sector on the island of Ireland is highly integrated’ and farmers are totally dependent on the current levels of direct payments from the EU for their survival.

The MLA added that the situation would be “further exacerbated” by a no-deal outcome where exports from north to south will face tariffs and controls.

“The report also highlights the extent of cross-border agricultural trade that currently happens seamlessly – over 800 million litres of milk, 400,000 lambs and a similar number of pigs every single year.”

All of that faces disruption and restrictions, McAleer warned.

A separate report produced by the Department of Economy highlights the impact on the beef sector, which makes up 22% – £467 million – of gross output of the north’s agriculture, and its vulnerability to a reduction in tariff protection against cheaper third country beef or any fluctuations in the destination of beef exports from Ireland.

“The election of Boris Johnson as the new British Prime Minister may have increased the risk of a crash Brexit, but the devastating impact on our agriculture sector again underscores the importance of ensuring that is not the case by implementing the withdrawal agreement and backstop,” McAleer concluded.

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