At 6am on Friday morning, it was announced that some 14.8m people voted to leave the EU while 13.8m voted to stay with 97% of all votes counted.
Irish agribusiness is now bracing itself for the outcome of this result, as the UK remains our prime market outlet.
IFA chief economist Rowena Dwyer broke down Ireland's relationship with the UK in numbers at the IFA's briefing on Brexit recently. 50% of Ireland’s total beef exports goes to the UK, followed by one third of our total dairy exports. With the UK leaving the EU, a drop in Irish exports of between €150m to €800m can be expected. There is a fear that it could become the 'back door for Mercosur'.
Primary trade between North and South, the issue of EU and non-EU approved ingredients and how they would be labelled and marketed is also of real concern to Irish farmers.
The prospect of border control between Ireland and the UK has also amplified the concerns of this Brexit for Irish farmers north and south of the border. "There is a real danger that border controls would have to be introduced if we Brexit, meaning farmers and food producers would lose out on valuable opportunities,” UK Agriculture Secretary Elizabeth Truss told the Irish Farmers Journal.
Ireland’s imports of agri-food products from the UK are also substantial, amounting to €4.1bn in 2014. The precise outcome, now that the UK has voted to leave, depends on the capacity of indigenous Irish producers to scale up production to meet the increased domestic market opportunities.
Farmers along the border were divided on Brexit. “If the UK votes to leave, then a mile and a half down the road from me becomes a foreign country," one Co Fermanagh farmer said, while another said “there’s no reason why trade shouldn’t continue to be as good as it is at present or improve if we leave.”
While tariffs on EU imports to the UK could now increase trade within the UK, the inclusion of dairy products in any EU trade agreement is imperative for Northern Ireland’s interests, with over 40% of NI milk and dairy product sales currently going to the EU.
The importance of direct payments under CAP for farm incomes in Northern Ireland is also a major issue. In NI last year, £236m of direct payments was received from the EU, but total farming income was £183m, meaning the industry operated at a loss.
Start exploring our full round-up of Irish Farmers Journal coverage surrounding the Brexit debate below: