The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is calling on the UK government to commit to applying reciprocal tariffs for agricultural goods if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31st October.
UFU president, Ivor Ferguson (pictured above), says in order to safe-guard food production in a no-deal situation the UK government must treat all agriculture commodities as sensitive.
“If the EU applies tariffs, the UK should reciprocate at the same level and trade can be managed through the introduction of tariff-rate quotas (TQRs) where there is a domestic producer interest. However, even with reciprocal tariffs the damage a no-deal Brexit will do to our industry is catastrophic.
“The UK’s departure from the EU must be orderly. A no-deal situation is the worst possible outcome for Northern Ireland’s farming families and will create disastrous consequences. Steep export tariffs, additional checks and regulations, combined with a proposed zero per cent tariff on agricultural goods from ROI to NI, will result in significant disruption and pose a logistical nightmare for farm businesses.”
Arguing that Northern Ireland will be one of the worst hit regions when it comes to a no-deal Brexit, the UFU says NI farmers will need significant support to mitigate the damage of such an event.
“If we end up in a no-deal scenario, our members across all our policy committees have said there must be an immediate amendment to the proposed UK no-deal tariff structure,” said Mr Ferguson. “We must mirror existing EU tariff levels in order to ensure the viability of primary producers.
“It cannot be overstated how important agri-food is to the Northern Ireland economy. It is NI’s largest manufacturer and leading exporter, turning over nearly £5 billion every year and employing over 90,000 people. Farmers are the industry’s bedrock and everything must be done to ensure the future viability of family-run farm businesses.”