The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has called for Ireland’s post-Brexit access to the UK to remain “as free as possible” with the minimisation of any barriers to trade, warning that the potential economic damage for the agri-food sector that would arise from a hard Brexit, is too serious to ignore.
The IFA’s stance was stated by association president, Joe Healy, when he addressed the Irish parliament’s influential Oireachtas committee.
“Our first position is that the UK would remain a full member of the EU’s Single Market, including free trade on agricultural products,” said Mr Healy (pictured above).
“If this proves unworkable, IFA is clear that the agreement of a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the UK, with favourable access for agricultural products and mutual recognition of standards, must be a priority at EU level.”
The president also commented that the decline of sterling, arising from the UK vote, is a market disturbance which has occurred swiftly and unexpectedly, and has resulted in significant price falls.
“The European Commission must look seriously at providing exceptional support for sectors for whom an external political event has had an immediate and negative economic impact,” he said. “We are again calling on the Government to pursue this at EU level. We are also asking for the support of this committee on these issues.”
Further calling for strong leadership in relation to Brexit and the need to compromise at both EU and UK levels, Mr Healy added: “The strength of the relationship between Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK, at government and civil society level, must be leveraged to minimise the economic and social disruption in the short term and to achieve the most positive and sustainable outcome to the negotiations.”