Farmer optimism on a possible Brexit deal is being severely tempered by the news that US tariffs on Irish dairy exports will apply from today, Friday, October 18, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

The EU needs to step up to the plate on this and either get the tariffs removed or compensate sectors impacted by the trade dispute, the organisation outlined.

Commenting on the matter, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said that, as the threat from a no-deal Brexit recedes, it becomes even more important that Government focus moves immediately to “a queue” of problems that require official attention.

McCormack said that the tariffs on Irish food exports to the US are a perfect example of something that had become “unnecessarily intractable and difficult” while Irish attention had been monopolised by Brexit.

It’s no-one’s fault – and certainly not the Government’s – but the fact of the matter is that we’re going to have tariffs slapped on, for instance, Kerrygold because the WTO has adjudged the French Government to have illegally subsidised Airbus.

“Irish farmers understand why we couldn’t give priority to dealing with this while Brexit was still ongoing – and we also appreciate the solidarity that the EU and all the member atates showed to Ireland at what was a monumentally difficult time.

“But we have to start looking at all the problems we ‘parked’ while Brexit was sucking all the political oxygen out of the room and these tariffs are a perfect example of that,” the president said.

Why are we being penalised and potentially having our milk price affected by a row that has absolutely nothing to do with us?

“The fact that these tariffs are going on Kerrygold when the brand was going so well in the US makes it even more irritating and makes our case even more compelling.”

McCormack stressed that such issues need to be taken care of straight away – starting by “making sure that we’re kept out of rows that have absolutely nothing to do with us”.

“And, where we are being dragged in, that we get everyone moving towards a resolution that makes this kind of trade war tactic avoidable,” he added.

Farmers cannot be expected to pay for the Airbus row.

“The EU either sorts it out and gets the tariffs removed on our food exports to the US or else compensates the sectors negatively impacted due to the Airbus dispute,” McCormack concluded.