Intervention and other no-deal Brexit measures on the table – IFA

Brexit and the looming possibility of the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal were key talking points for Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Joe Healy at the IFA Annual General Meeting (AGM) today (Tuesday, January 29).

Speaking at the event in Dublin, the president highlighted the potential repercussions from a no-deal Brexit and stressed the need for support both at national and EU level for farming in such an eventuality.

“We want to hear assurances from the Taoiseach that [the Government] is there to support Irish farmers in particular in the case of a no-deal Brexit but also that they are open to understanding and appreciating the concerns and the challenges that are there at the moment and the huge financial burden that beef farmers in particular are experiencing.

If you compare to this time last year, beef farmers are losing 25c/kg or anything between €80 and €100/head.

The president said that the IFA has been over to Brussels and has met with European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan twice in the past 10 days.

“He was talking about, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, measures that have been tried and trusted in the Russian embargo and also the time of the BSE.”

The president expanded on what measures were mentioned during talks with the commissioner.

Measures like the aids to private storage, intervention, and some financial contribution as well – that those measures are there.

“They’re there at the ready – and ready to be implemented if we have a crash-out and a no deal.

“I think that it’s very important – and we’ve put that to him – that in the two months between now and then, that that uncertainty is putting huge financial pressure on farmers because of the way it has affected prices, particularly in the beef sector.”

The president qualified his statements, adding that the organisation is still hopeful of a deal being struck, but noted that, even if there is a deal, farmers continue to lose a lot of money.

We’ve seen huge uncertainty in the mushroom market; the pig trade has been decimated with prices throughout the year.

Healy said that, during discussions with Commissioner Hogan, compensation between now and the UK’s departure date of March 29 wasn’t really a runner, adding:

“His comments were very much based on a crash-out and a no-deal Brexit; that’s when he’d be talking about introducing a no-deal Brexit.”

Regarding the measures mentioned, Healy added that the IFA is seeking an intervention price higher than what prices are like at present.

The president was cautiously optimistic regarding the effectiveness of the mooted measures, noting: “I think those three areas would cover a lot of the problems – depending on the figures and the size of the monies he’s talking about.”