Irish farming and agri-food focus ‘vital’ amid Brexit talks

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has said that it is “vital” that the Irish government “keeps its gaze fixed” on what Irish farming and agri-food require by way of new post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The association is seeking “a system as close to the present one as possible” as Ireland enters what could be the “Brexit home straight”.

The president of the ICMSA Pat McCormack said: “I know that every farmer in Ireland is watching this closely and willing the negotiations to succeed on a basis that leaves our food exports to Britain continuing on a tariff-free and quota-free basis.

We have held those markets for centuries and we’re certain that British consumers want our food and we, for our part, want their custom.

“I’m also very conscious of the fact that Ireland does not have an independent voice in this; we are part of the EU and [Michel] Barnier therefore speaks for us.

“There is also the fact that the other member states have given us unwavering support on the issue of the border and we must show solidarity in return,” said the ICMSA president.

Guard future exports

McCormack continued: “We have to guard against our multi-billion euro food exports to the UK being held ‘ransom’ by other member states’ particular concerns that are nowhere near as important to their economies as food is to Ireland’s.

“Ireland will obviously stand with and within the overall EU position, but the others will have to remember that stopping a Brexit deal for issues that might represent 1% or 2% of their economy, in a way that severely damages our food exports to the UK which represent up to 15% of net indigenous Irish economic exports, is a very different matter.

“The Irish government will remember that, ultimately, they must represent Ireland’s interests and it bears repeating – our interests are in a post-Brexit arrangement that is as close to the present system as possible,” concluded Pat McCormack.