Brexit causing as much fear as BSE - Comer
Addressing 250 dairy farmers at the ICMSA AGM in Limerick on Monday, Comer said Brexit was the single biggest challenge the Irish agri-food industry has faced in decades.
However, he added that farmers should not be bystanders in the process.
“We have a voice and we should be articulating our national interest right now – early and often,” he said.
“The Irish Government, the UK government and the EU all have it within their powers to ensure a relatively smooth transition and they need to announce that as their ambition.
“Even this early in the process, we don’t need sabre-rattling on trade arrangements.
“We will need an agreement between the EU and the UK that protects the livelihoods dependent on trade between the two parties.
“Ireland has a centuries-old food trade export with England in particular and that has to continue. The ICMSA thinks that the Irish Government would be very wise to set out that position now as a national strategic imperative that we will insist other member states respect and incorporate into final arrangements.”
He added that the Government needed to set out its desired ambitions for a final deal now.
“Establishing Brexit groups now is all very well, but until the negotiations commence, their status and usefulness is doubtful,” Comer maintained.
“When it [Brexit negotiations] does begin, our issues are already clear: free access to the UK market, CAP implications and common production standards to on-farm issues,” he concluded.