Longford Leader Farming: Brexit Fund must go directly to farmers

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IFA President Tim Cullinan

IFA President Tim Cullinan

IFA President Tim Cullinan said the announcement that Ireland will receive over €1bn, or 25%, from the EU Brexit fund in 2021 is clear recognition that we are most exposed to the fallout from Brexit.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney confirmed the funding at the AGM of the North Tipperary County Executive last night.

Tim Cullinan said when it comes to allocating the funding, the impact on the agri-food sector will have to be central to any decisions.

“We will be making a strong case for funding to go directly to farmers who will take the brunt of any fallout from currency fluctuations and trade and logistical issues that will arise once the deal reached before Christmas works its way through the system,” he said.

“We have real concerns about how non-tariff barriers will impact on our ability to keep trade flows moving. Green Lanes have been implemented previously for food exports. These must be prioritised to allow us reach our markets,” he said.

Tim Cullinan also said the longer-term implication for our food exports could be the flooding of the UK market by cheap imports. “Farmers here on the island of Ireland and in the UK are steadfast in their view of standards,” he said.

We know the UK agenda is to offer access to their food market to Australia, New Zealand Canada, the US and the Mercosur countries of South America in exchange for trade deals with those countries. If that happens, then the value of the UK market for Irish food exports will be cut and Irish farmers will suffer huge income losses, with knock-on effects on EU markets. The level playing field provisions built into this deal by the EU must stop any race to the bottom

ICSA president Edmond Phelan has welcomed the announcement made by Minister Simon Coveney that Ireland is set to receive €1.05 billion in 2021 under the EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

“News that the EU Commission has proposed that 25% of this important fund should be allocated to Ireland is testament to the fact that Ireland has been, and continues to be, the country most exposed to the economic fallout from Brexit.”

ICSA is committed to ensuring that Irish cattle and sheep farmers receive a substantial piece of this fund. Uncertainty around Brexit has severely impacted prices since the referendum was passed in 2016. Those sectors are now in year five of wrangling with the severe economic repercussions of Brexit and must certainly now be a priority when it comes to allocating these supports.”

Mr Phelan said the signing of the Brexit trade deal in December has not eliminated the potential for Brexit to continue to impact prices for the foreseeable future. “The deal has not signalled the end of the Brexit disruption faced by cattle and sheep farmers. The UK has long since been our biggest market and the threat of that market being displaced by cheaper imports from around the world remains.”