A no-deal outcome from Brexit would put Northern Ireland’s livestock sector in serious jeopardy, the Ulster Farmers’ Union beef and lamb chair, Sam Chesney, has said.
“We recognise that negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU is no easy task, however, March 2019 is fast approaching. The government must ensure that there are measures in place to allow tariff-free and frictionless access to export markets in the EU.
“This is vital to the survival of the livestock sector in Northern Ireland. A no-deal outcome is very risky – we would face up to 60% tariffs on exports and it could result in unfair competition in the UK market from lower-standard meat imported from outside of Europe. It would put the livestock sector in serious jeopardy,” Chesney said.
Livestock representatives from the UFU, NFU Scotland and NFU Cymru say the prospect of the UK leaving the EU next March with no trade deal in place is worrying, and would have serious implications for the UK’s beef and sheep sectors.
Wyn Evans, an upland farmer from mid-Wales and chair of the NFU Cymru livestock board, said: “Sheep production is critical to the rural economy of Wales and brings with it clear environmental benefits.
“The government in its future trade talks with the EU must ensure that we have measures in place that continue to allow tariff-free and unfettered access to export markets in Europe. This is vital to maintaining the already tight margins in this sector.
“We are extremely concerned about the potential devastating consequences a no-deal scenario and associated trade export tariffs could bring on the sector,” he said.
Evans also said that the whole of the rural economy would be affected, and the knock-on effect lower production levels would have on the landscape and our environment.
“A critical level of supply of high-quality, PGI-status Welsh lamb is essential to keep a viable processing sector in Wales.”
Also commenting on a no-deal Brexit was NFU Scotland livestock committee vice-chair Jimmy Ireland, who said: “A no-deal Brexit could have unthinkable consequences on Scottish farms and crofts. The UK currently exports more than £380m-worth of lamb and sheepmeat, with the vast majority being exported to European markets.
“Any imposition of barriers to trade as a result of Brexit will impact thousands of sheep and cattle farming businesses across Scotland and the UK.
“We also need to see the UK government secure future protection of our food names, such as Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI. These names are synonymous with quality and we need to see them protected from imitation, both in the United Kingdom and the European Union.
“Future support for the food and farming sector must deliver on-farm profitability that ensures there is a critical mass of cattle and sheep to drive productivity across the supply chain.”
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