ICMSA to meet UK farm minister on Brexit this week

An ICMSA delegation is to meet DEFRA Secretary Andrea Leadsom in the House of Commons next Tuesday evening, February 7.

The association’s President John Comer said that he will be accompanied by ICMSA’s General Secretary John Enright.

“The meeting will provide us with a unique opportunity to discuss the potential impact of Brexit on Irish agriculture.”

Comer said that the Brexit White Paper, published a few days ago in London, contained many aspirations, which Irish farmers could agree with.

“But the fact remains: if the UK does not support the free movement of EU nationals within its borders, a hard Brexit will follow.”

Brexit will have major implications for rural areas throughout Ireland, but there will be no side deals involving only Ireland and the UK.

“The reality is that Dublin will have to make the best case it possibly can for Irish farmers through Brussels.”

The White Paper on Brexit

Meanwhile, agriculture and food received only passing reference in the Brexit White Paper.

The 77-page document simply confirms that leaving the EU offers the UK a significant opportunity to design new, better and more efficient policies for delivering sustainable and productive farming, land management and rural communities.

This approach, according to the proposed policy paper, will enable the UK deliver a vision for a world-leading food and farming industry and a cleaner, healthier environment, benefiting people and the economy.

Responding to the White Paper, Ulster Farmers’ Union President Barclay Bell said that it underlines the importance of discussions on the future shape and level of support to UK agriculture, adding.

“The UFU is involved in that debate, here and in Britain. We have made clear what we see as strategic priorities to ensure farming is properly supported. The White Paper itself says little about agriculture.

“It confirms that the UK will leave the CAP and refers to future support for a sustainable and productive agricultural industry.

“Along with the other farm unions we will be pressing to ensure that is delivered in a way that will benefit the industry here.”