'Disaster', 'fatal blow': Northern Ireland reacts to no-deal Brexit tariffs
Agri food organisations in Northern Ireland have heavily criticised the trade arrangements announced by the UK in case there is no Brexit agreement.

The Ulster Farmers Union has warned that interim tariff arrangements announced by the UK this Wednesday would "devastate Northern Ireland’s farming industry".

While heavy taxes would apply to agricultural imports, a tariff-free quota equivalent to what the UK currently imports from the EU would be exempt from tariffs, and trade from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland would be fully exempt for a period.

Differential treatment

“We have very real concerns about the proposal for a 0% tariff on agricultural goods coming from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the differential treatment with Republic of Ireland and Great Britain trade where tariffs will apply," said UFU president Ivor Ferguson. "This would drive down prices and hit producers here. It could also potentially open the door to illegal trade which would seriously impact on the integrity of the NI agri food industry."

Instead, the UFU has called on the UK to reciprocate whatever tariffs the EU applies to UK exports. The organisation also slammed the British government's announcement of the tariffs just over two weeks before the UK is due to exit the EU on 29 March, leaving insufficient time for farmers and businesses to prepare.

It would crush our farming base

The agri food alliance of food processors has also warned that the plan would be devastating for the industry. "It would deal a fatal blow to indigenous food production in the UK and in particular Northern Ireland. It must not be contemplated," a statement from the group reads.

According to the group, the tariff-free quota could give the European Union unfettered access to Northern Ireland, and therefore Great Britain, whereas Northern Irish producers would not be able to export freely to the EU.

Gridlock

"It would crush our farming base, destroying family businesses within weeks and would decimate investment leading to closures and job losses," the statement continued. "We would also face gridlock on our roads and at our ports due to the increased volume of goods coming from the Republic of Ireland in transit to Great Britain."

Both the UFU and the agri food alliance have called on MPs to avoid a no-deal Brexit at all costs in light of the proposed trade arrangements.

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The farmer's daily wrap: farm fatality, African swine fever and bees
Here is your news round-up of the five top farming stories and weather outlook for Saturday 24 May.

Weather forecast

Met Éireann has said that it will be rather cloudy at first on Saturday, with patches of light rain or drizzle, mainly affecting the western half of the country.

Cloud is forecast to start to break later in the morning, with spells of sunshine for the afternoon and evening.

However, Atlantic coastal areas will remain quite dull and damp.

It looks set to be a humid day, with top temperatures ranging from 16°C to 20°C in light to moderate southwesterly breezes.

In the news

  • There is a mixed bag of weather ahead for the weekend, with showers, sunshine and highs of 20°C.
  • Minister warning to holiday-makers over African swine fever: “Don’t bring back your sandwich; don’t bring back your salami.”
  • A man in his 60s has died following an accident on a farm in Aughnacliffe, Co Longford.
  • Just 207t of skimmed milk powder (SMP) remains in the EU’s intervention measure.
  • And Irish citizens are being asked to report sightings of bees in a nationwide online survey.
  • Coming up this Saturday

  • Good week/bad week.
  • Free trailer marking against theft.
  • The latest from Newford Farm.
    Three-man race for ICSA president
    The Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) will elect a new president in June.

    Three candidates are in the running to become the next president of the ICSA following the close of nominations on Friday evening.

    In alphabetical order, these candidates are as follows:

  • Hugh Farrell, Cavan.
  • Dermot Kelleher, Cork west.
  • Edmond Phelan, Waterford.
  • The election will take place in Portlaoise on the evening of Thursday 27 June.

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    Family-owned feedlots entitled to compensation – ICSA

    Brexit beef compensation: what farmer groups want

    Watch: vegetable growers turn on the irrigation systems
    O’Shea Farms and Hughes Farming have both turned on the irrigation pumps this week.

    In order to combat dry conditions, O’Shea Farms and Hughes Farming were irrigating crops this week.

    Julian Hughes says he has never irrigated as early as May before and that he has two reels out at the moment, but will be putting another two out next week if there is no rain in the meantime.

    “We have a 30mm soil moisture deficit,” he said.

    “The fear of a repeat of 2018 is palpable in the yard at home, there’s dust everywhere.”

    In a normal year, he said that he would irrigate the crops in July and August.

    But so far he has put 30mm on parsnips and followed up five days later with another 30mm.

    “You could ask are we selecting higher-yielding varieties that need more inputs. But I’m using the same variety with the last 20 years.

    "It’s just very dry. We need 50mm over three days to get things balanced up.”

    Agronomist with O’Shea farms Tom Murray said that it would be normal for them to be irrigating at this time of year. They grow carrots in Piltown and Carrick-on-Suir.

    “We’re putting on 12mm to 15mm, not any more than that. We don’t want to wash away any pre-emergence spray,” Tom said.

    “There has been years before when we needed to irrigate to encourage germination. But the soil is starting to dry out and we want to be ahead of it.”

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    Fields drying up as some farmers wait for rain

    Flood risk farmers urged to make submissions

    Crops remain in good condition but have become more variable