IFA and French farmers affirm ‘strong position’ on Brexit

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and its French equivalent, the FNSEA, have affirmed their support for a Brexit deal being signed, as the deadline for the UK leaving the EU approaches.

At a meeting in Dublin today (March 11), representatives from both associations agreed that they wanted to see a deal signed that would do the “least possible damage” to Irish and French farmers.

Both Joe Healy, the president of the IFA, and his opposite number in the FNSEA, Christiane Lambert, said that protecting the integrity of the EU single market customs union was an “essential element of any outcome”.

A ‘no-deal’ would be very detrimental to Irish and French farmers, but the EU must remain firm on the withdrawal agreement. After all, this was agreed with the EU by the UK government.

Both presidents agreed that: “If we end up in a ‘no-deal’ scenario, we expect the commission to stand by their commitment to support European farmers in the strongest possible way.”

Healy and Lambert also reaffirmed their associations’ commitment to the Northern Ireland backstop. They also acknowledged the “steadfast position” of the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, as well as the “solidarity” of the other member states in the block.

Together both leaders affirmed: “IFA and FNSEA share the dual objective of maintaining the movement of goods between the EU 27 and the UK and guaranteeing the mutual respect of high standards and regulations.

Market disruption must be avoided, particularly through imports of goods that would not be subject to the same production standards.

Healy said: “FNSEA has always identified with our aim of preserving the European family-farm model, and we have worked together through various CAP reforms to secure strong support for farming and food.”

The French representatives at today’s meeting said that they had highlighted the importance of the EU position to their own government, and that the country must remain committed to it.

Healy warned that the Government here must remain “vigilant” in the run up to Brexit, and ensure that the EU’s position doesn’t waver in relation to Ireland.