Impact of Brexit must be factored into next CAP review negotiations – McConalogue

The specific implications of Brexit for Irish agriculture must be worked through as part of the next CAP review negotiations, according to Fianna Fail’s spokesperson for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue.

“Ireland will be uniquely exposed to the impact of Brexit,” he said.

“Our land border with Northern Ireland raises a large number of trade related issues. But there is the not insignificant matter of how the UK will support its own farming industry beyond 2020.

“London may well favour a system that is at odds with the basic payment model that is currently available throughout the entire EU.

The current payments have been guaranteed in the UK up to 2020. But after that, all bets are off.

“Subsequent to this, we could very well have a situation unfold which sees farmers in Northern Ireland accessing a totally different farm support mechanism than that which is available in the Republic.

“And, again, this could have major implications for the development of agriculture across the island as a whole,” he said.

A Fianna Fail delegation recently returned from Brussels, where they met with representatives of the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan’s cabinet.

“These meetings were very timely in light of the announcement by the Commission that a Communication on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020 will be published in 2017,” said McConalogue.

“We emphasised the importance of CAP funding and direct payments to Irish farmers, which are key to sustaining rural communities and employment levels.

CAP has a key role to play in meeting global demographic challenges and ensure that the primary producer continues to farm the land, maintain their rural enterprise and generational renewal.

Fianna Fail strategists believe there are a number of threats to the Irish agriculture sector coming down the road.

These need to be addressed not only at home, but also with the help of European counterparts.

“Brexit is one of the most serious challenges facing us and our special relationship with the UK must be acknowledged and protected,” said party spokesman on Horticulture and Food Jackie Cahill.