In all the recent talk about Brexit, one eventuality may be overlooked – a situation in which a deal is agreed now, but there is not enough time to implement it before December 31.

This would likely lead to a situation where there are tariffs on Irish agri-food produce for a period of time in the new year, before a deal is properly implemented.

Speaking to AgriLand, Eddie Punch, the general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), said the situation is not “black and white”.

There is a perception that if it’s ‘no-deal’, it’s economic disaster, and if there is a deal then everything is rosy.

Financial support for farmers post-Brexit is currently in the works, with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue in talks with other ministers, government sources have told AgriLand.

The support funding, if it comes to pass, would only be implemented in the case of a ‘no-deal’ situation.

It is understood that Minister McConalogue is in talks with Michael McGrath, Minister for Public Expenditure, to establish a figure for support.

Sources have indicated that the support would amount to some €400 million. This is based on economic modelling by Teagasc, which has estimated the economic impact of a no-deal scenario.

But, according to Punch, as this is based on ‘no deal’, it would not take into account a temporary tariff situation for a period in the new year if there is a deal now that was held up by bureaucratic technicalities in the EU.

Punch also expressed concern that a deal, at this late stage, would merely be a ‘bare-bones’ deal.

Negotiations between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are continuing at the moment, with a view to securing a free trade deal that would allow EU products – including Irish agri-food produce – avoid heavy tariffs when moving into the UK.

‘Special consideration’

Meanwhile, Irish farmers are expected to get ‘special consideration’ in the event of ‘no-deal’ situation, according to the European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski.

Speaking in response to a question from AgriLand during an online press conference, the commissioner said: “First of all, what kind of support will be needed? This is the initial thing for the Irish government, the Irish partners, the farmer organisations, etc.

I know that Ireland is in an especially difficult situation because this is very much dependent…[on] the UK market.

“As Commissioner for Agriculture I know that the situation is very serious and that our farmers, if there will be ‘no deal’, will need more support – Irish farmers, but not only Irish farmers,” the commissioner added.

“It’s a problem for the whole of Europe, not for all member states but there are many member states that will be affected if there is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit,” he remarked.