Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokespersons MLA Declan McAleer and TD Brian Stanley have restated the need for the all-island Agri-food sector to be protected during Brexit negotiations.
Speaking at the launch of ‘The EU and Irish Unity – planning and preparing for constitutional change in Ireland’ report by the European Parliament , MLA McAleer said:
“We must ensure that we limit the damage that Brexit will have on agriculture and the agri-food industry across the island of Ireland.
“Recent independent reports by the Irish Institute of European Affairs (IIEA) and the Department of Economy confirm that a Brexit presents a doomsday scenario for Irish farming and all-Ireland trade.
“The north will be extremely vulnerable given that agri-food sector on the island of Ireland is highly integrated and farmers are totally dependent on the current levels of direct payments from the EU for their survival.
“We’re potentially looking at a 30% tariff on dairy, 20% on lamb and coupled with the removal of EU subsidies.
“Each year, cross border agri-food trade sees over 800 million litres of milk, 400,000 lambs and a similar number of pigs move between the North and South. All of that faces disruption and restrictions.
“Brexit poses a huge economic threat right across this island.
Speaking alongside MLA McAleer, Deputy Stanley said:
“To avoid the worst impact of Brexit within our all-island Agri-food industry we need to see three things happen.
“First of all, we need to ensure that there is complete regulatory alignment across the island with regards to agri-food rules and regulations.
“Any suggestion that each and every ingredient contained in a product created in the North would require an export health certificate to come into the South is fantasy stuff. It would bring the entire industry to a standstill.
“Secondly, there can be no customs or tariffs on the island of Ireland. What we need to see is the North granted Special Designated Status, which is a policy that Sinn Féin have been pushing for the last three years.
“Thirdly, the CAP Pillar 1 and 2 architecture must be retained in the North regardless of what deal is secured. Farming relies on EU subsidies to survive and to keep food at an affordable price for the consumer’
In conclusion, MLA McAleer said:
“Sinn Féin will continue to engage with the sector, lobby the department and do our best nationally, at EU level, in councils and internationally to highlight the plight that Brexit will inflict on our communities.
“If we are dragged out of the EU against our will, and if the basic demands of the Agri-food sector are not met then people should be given the opportunity to vote to get back into the EU through Irish reunification.”