Healy to meet UK farm leaders ahead of Brexit vote

Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy is set to travel to London tomorrow (Tuesday, January 15) to meet UK farm leaders ahead of the crucial vote on Brexit in the House of Commons tomorrow evening.

Commenting ahead of the trip, the president said: “While the vote is a matter for the UK Parliament, farmers in Ireland and the UK are clear that a ‘no deal’ outcome would be catastrophic for farmers on the two islands and hugely damaging to the interests of consumers.”

Healy said the Irish and UK food supply chains are deeply integrated, underlining grave concerns regarding the dangers of a ‘no deal’ outcome that would cause massive disruption to the normal trade flows between the two countries, on which farmers greatly depend for their livelihoods.

I know our colleagues are bringing the maximum pressure they can to bear on the political system to work for a solution that maintains frictionless trade.

“Irish farming has just as much to lose as farmers in the UK if we find ourselves in a ‘no-deal’ scenario.

“Given the scale of what we export to the UK market – 37% of our food products – it would be a seismic shock to our system if we don’t have full access between EU and the UK, while maintaining the value of the UK food market.”

The president also underlined that Ireland imports €4 billion of agri-food products from the UK – a fact that is often overlooked.

“I believe EU and UK farm leaders have a shared interest in ensuring that the UK, which is an important market for all European farmers, does not pursue policies which will further drive down food prices.

Importing food and food ingredients from countries with lower production costs and lower standards will undermine the value of the UK food market for EU and UK farmers.

“We must send a strong message that a cheap food policy is a race to the bottom which will ultimately lead to the destruction of EU and UK farming and lower quality food for the consumer,” he said.