UK Brexit plan signals trouble for Irish agri-industry

Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers says this week’s speech by British Prime Minister Teresa May on her Government’s Brexit strategy will provide no comfort for farmers and businesses involved in the agri-food sector. The speech set out a plan for a hard Brexit – something which will worry producers and exporters in Mayo.

Deputy Chambers commented, “While we now have some degree of clarity as to how the British Government intends to proceed with its Brexit plans – no single market, no special status for Northern Ireland and possibly no customs union. The messages contained in Ms. May’s speech will be a cause for concern for farmers, producers and business across Mayo, many of which rely on an open border and customs union for trade.

“Bord Bia’s most recent report estimates that the Irish food and drinks sector lost €570m in the last year as a result of Brexit fears. These losses are not sustainable and our Government must ensure that there is a strategy in place to curb potential fallout. Fianna Fáil is calling for a review of Food Wise 2015 in light of the unfolding situation, as Brexit will pose unforeseen challenges to the agri-food sector over the next decade.

“Mayo businesses have already had to contend with fluctuating sterling prices, and while the uncertainty of the past 6 months has been unhelpful, Britain’s hard-line stance on the common market will be a major source of concern.

“The Government must step up to the mark now to protect Irish interests. Fianna Fáil wants to see a dedicated Brexit Minister appointed to oversee a cross-departmental approach and to ensure that we have the strongest possible negotiation position at European level when the Brexit negotiations begin in earnest”.