New IFA president Tim Cullinan said that Irish farmers will not allow the agricultural sector be destroyed by a bad trade deal.

This comes as the UK exits from the European Union on Saturday 1 January.

“I want to send a strong message that Irish farmers cannot be sold out in these talks. If the UK want a trade deal with the EU, they will have to toe the line and adhere to EU food standards and requirements,” he said.

Cullinan said that Europe wouldn’t be “brow-beaten” by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson after the PM looked for an extension to the 11-month transition phase.

“December 31 is a cliff edge for the UK too, so they need to take a more realistic approach,” he said.

Cheap food

He added that if the UK was to diverge from EU standards to pursue a cheap food policy, it would be “simply unacceptable, because it would destabilise the entire EU food market for Irish and European farmers.”

Cullinan also noted that the loss of a €1bn export market would be catastrophic on the Irish agri-food sector and predicted negotiations to be a “major battleground” as Johnson simultaneously negotiates a trade deal with the US president Donald Trump.

“Commissioner Hogan will have to be extremely vigilant. He must use the EU’s trade leverage to stand up to the UK and prioritise Europe’s farming and food sector. His understanding of the implications for Irish agriculture will be crucial. In particular, he must reject any demand from the UK side to cut deals with 3rd countries,” he said.

The IFA president called on the EU to provide a €1bn support fund in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Macra Na Feirmie

Macra president Thomas Duffy has called on the next government to secure a favourable UK-EU trade deal that will protect farmers and exports while maintaining the Good Friday Agreement.

John Keane, Macra’s agricultural affairs committee chair said that young farmers will need a government that will secure an increase in the EU’s seven-year financial framework. He called for a commitment of more than 10% of the CAP spend for young farmer’s measures and support for a farmer retirement scheme.

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