Is the tillage sector less exposed when it comes to a hard Brexit?

A hard Brexit may not impact badly on the tillage sector directly. It may actually result in higher grain prices here in Ireland. However, the knock-on effect on the livestock sector would no doubt indirectly impact negatively on the tillage sector.

Speaking at last week’s crops forum, hosted by Teagasc, Prof. Michael Wallace told viewers that the tillage sector may not be as exposed as other sectors of Irish agriculture when asked how a hard Brexit would affect the minority sector.

He stated: “The tillage sector is much less exposed to Brexit than our other components of Irish agriculture and that’s primarily because it’s less dependent on exports and the other aspect is that most of our imports [grain] are coming through from the UK.

“So a hard Brexit would mean that there would probably be more barriers to some of those imports coming in and that might actually have an upward movement in our own domestic grain prices which is good news for tillage farmers, but not so good for livestock farmers.”

Imports and exports

Large proportions of Ireland’s barley and wheat imports come from the UK, while other products like maize often travel through the UK before arriving in Ireland.

Only a small amount of Irish grain and grain products are exported in this country. However, products like malt and oats do travel across the border and looking at the wider food chain malt, whiskey, beer and oat-based products are exported in significant amounts to the UK which is also important to consider.