‘Meat factories may try to use Brexit to create fear about prices’

ICSA President Patrick Kent has called for calm in beef and sheep markets following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

“Meat factories may try to use this to create fear about prices for the rest of the year.

“One thing has become very clear: the expert pundits are not good at forecasts,” he said.

The ICSA president said that Europe needs to reflect very carefully on what happens next and why it is that the EU has failed to win the hearts of so many voters in the UK.

“There is no point in blaming Brexit on xenophobia; the reality is that many factors have come into play. The EU needs to reflect carefully on why the European project is out of step with so many citizens.”

“The Irish government can play a vital role as a broker between the EU and the UK to help ensure that the single market continues to include the UK, given the huge and unique dependence of Ireland on exports to the UK.”

Kent said the Irish government needs to take a strong line with the EU Commission on the need to ensure that the Brexit decision does not create chaos for Irish agriculture.

He added that CAP supports are going to be more vital than ever and increasing the CAP budget needs to be considered, regardless of the loss of the UK net contribution.

Kent also said the negotiating strategy for TTIP and Mercosur trade deals needs a total reappraisal and probably now needs to take a back seat to getting the terms of trade with the UK right.

“One thing is clear: the EU must draw back from any knee jerk inclination to punish the UK following Brexit. The process now needs to be managed on a cordial and consensual basis and retaining the trade levels between the UK and the EU must be paramount. This means that tariff barriers should not be considered.”

“The EU should not see punishing the UK as the way to retain the loyalty of the other member states. Instead we need to have an open and honest dialogue about how to make the EU more attractive to all citizens and how to change the things that have disenchanted people,” he said.

“While Ireland is undoubtedly committed to the EU, it is the case that many farmers are deeply frustrated with the way in which the CAP has failed to protect their incomes while bringing huge rafts of bureaucracy and regulation on small businesses.

“Meanwhile, the EU has failed to use its power to control the large multinational retailers and processors who have squeezed farmers to the point of non-viability while enriching themselves.”

“The fact that meat company bosses, food processing executives, input suppliers and food company chief executives are getting obscenely rewarded from the hard work of primary producers cannot be blamed solely on the EU.

“However, it is the apparent indifference of the EU to tackling this effectively that is so concerning.”

“I don’t, for one minute, suggest that national governments would be better at tackling this, but it is clear that the EU must use its power more for the benefit of the ordinary citizen and less for the benefit of large scale businesses,” he said.