Impact of Brexit on Irish agriculture on agenda as ICSA meet UK farm minister

ICSA President Patrick Kent will meet UK farm minister Andrea Leadsom in London tomorrow evening, February 7, to discuss the potential impact of Brexit on Irish agriculture.

He will be accompanied the organisation’s operations manager Laura Starnes.

“The meeting with the minister has been organised under the aegis of Fairness for Farmers in Europe,” said ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch.

“All of the farming organisations represented at tomorrow’s meeting are deeply concerned about the impact of Brexit on Irish agriculture, north and south.”

The ICSA delegation will impress upon Leadsom the need for trading arrangements between Ireland and the UK to be discussed as part of the main Brexit negotiations.

“Brussels is indicating that trade issues can be discussed once the main Brexit framework agreement is in place,” said Punch.

“This is fundamentally wrong. Such an approach holds out the prospect of trading relations between Ireland and the UK being put into limbo for a considerable period of time.”

Punch confirmed that ICSA wants ongoing, tariff-free access for Irish beef onto the UK market.

ICSA President, Patrick Kent, said that ICSA is determined to ensure that Irish farming interests are well understood at all stages of Brexit negotiations and that these are kept to the fore on both the UK and EU sides of the table.

This is the first meeting between the UK Secretary and any Irish farm organisation and it demonstrates that ICSA will continue to keep the interests of beef and sheep farmers centre stage in the Brexit talks.

“ICSA has already outlined the concerns of the sectors to EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier last September in France.

“Secretary Leadsom is a key member of the British cabinet and was also prominent as the leading candidate from the pro-Brexit side in the contest to take over from David Cameron. ”

“The UK has been our single biggest market for food and drink exports with exports of beef alone amounting to almost €1.2 billion in 2016.

“At least 50% of our beef currently goes to the UK and a roadmap for how this market can be protected needs to be established.”

“Agriculture ties between the UK and Ireland are deeply embedded. ICSA will be making the case that it is in the interests of both Irish and UK farmers to have an EU/UK trade deal which minimises tariffs and other barriers.

“There is a commonality of interests here which needs to be recognised and protected.”