What would the UK’s Brexit vision mean for Irish agriculture?
Theresa May and the British government have published their white paper which sets out its desired future relationship with the EU. What does this vision mean for Irish agriculture?

Key points

  • A common rulebook on goods would allow for free and frictionless trade and prevent a hard border between the north and south of Ireland.
  • Under the free-trade area, there would be no tariffs or quotas on agricultural goods between the UK and EU.
  • The UK has signalled its intention to “improve agricultural productivity” and “deliver improved environmental outcomes through its replacement for CAP”.
  • Economic partnership

    As has been previously revealed, following a divisive meeting that resulted in the resignation of two high-profile ministers, the UK is seeking a common rulebook for all goods, including agri-food, while excluding services.

    This means the UK would commit to ongoing harmonisation with the relevant EU rules to allow for frictionless trade at the north-south border and to meet the conditions of the backstop agreement.

    Under this proposal, there would be recognition that goods coming into the UK would face the same treatment at the border as goods coming into EU member states, so there would be no need for further restrictions between the UK and the EU.

    It also clearly states that while the common rulebook will apply to only those rules that must be checked at the border, it will not cover marketing and labelling requirements, an area in which it says there is already difference between EU member states.

    Tariffs and rules of origin

    Also acknowledged is the extensive trade relationship between the UK and the EU in agricultural products, with 70% of UK food imports coming from the EU in 2017.

    With this in mind, the paper sets out that the UK will seek a free-trade area for agricultural goods. As a result, there would be zero tariffs across agricultural goods, with no quotas.

    There would also be no routine requirements for origin checks between the UK and EU due to the maintenance of harmonised rules.

    Future UK agricultural strategy

    The paper says that as the UK is exiting CAP, it will design a new system of agricultural supports, with high ambitions for a sustainable agricultural industry in the UK - within the confines of WTO rules.

    The paper claims that the UK “will seek to improve agricultural productivity” and “deliver improved environmental outcomes through its replacement for CAP". This will be done in close partnership with the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

    Read more

    Brexit white paper ‘is only a starting point’

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Brexit, CAP, climate change and Mercosur

    KT farm improvement deadline extended
    The deadline for submission of data for farm improvement plans has been extended to facilitate weather conditions.

    A two-week extension to the date for submission of farm improvement plans in the Knowledge Transfer (KT) Scheme has been granted. Farmers now have until 14 August to submit their plans. However, the 31 July deadline for holding meetings of KT groups remains in place.

    Processing will begin on cases submitted by the original 31 July deadline in order to ensure that any impact on payment timelines is minimised, the Department has said.

    “This extension has arisen on foot of concerns expressed in relation to the amount of resources currently being dedicated by advisory services to assisting farmers in dealing with the current weather conditions,” Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said.

    Creed urged all participants in KT groups to submit their farm improvement plan data as soon as possible.

    Read more

    ‘Every effort is being made’ – Creed on delays to partnership payments

    Weekend weather: close and humid
    The outlook from Met Éireann is for close and humid weather much of the time, but mixed. Some bright or sunny spells at times, but cloudy, misty, damp periods too.

    The best of any sunshine will be over Ulster later on Friday. Top temperatures 17 to 21°C, best in parts of east Munster and south Leinster. Moderate southwest winds this morning will become northwesterly later.

    Mild and misty Friday night with a mix of clear spells and cloudy periods. Some patches of drizzle in places early on, but generally dry.

    Saturday

    Largely dry and bright on Saturday. Some hazy sunshine, but cloudy periods too, especially so over parts of Ulster and Connacht, where some drizzle is likely later in the day in Atlantic coastal areas. Top temperatures 17 to 21°C, in just light to moderate southwesterly breezes.

    Saturday night

    Mild and misty overnight. Some patches of drizzle will develop along the northwest coast, but most other areas should be dry. Lowest temperatures 11 to 14°C in light variable or southwesterly breezes.

    Sunday

    Close and humid in light to moderate southwesterly breezes. Rather cloudy and misty generally, with scattered patches of drizzle and fog about. These mainly over Ulster and Connacht. But dry, bright spells will develop too, with some sunshine coming through at times. Highs of 18 to 20°C in many northern and western areas, but values in the low to mid-20s elsewhere, best of all in sunny breaks. Humid and misty overnight also, with occasional drizzle about and lows of 14 or 15°C.

    Monday

    Remaining close and humid, but rather mixed. Some dry, bright spells, but cloudy, misty periods too, with occasional rain and patches of fog. Top temperatures 18 to 20°C in many western and northern areas, but in the low 20s over more southern and eastern areas.

    Tuesday

    Fresher for Tuesday, with bright or sunny spells, but some cloudy periods at times too. Mostly dry, with any showers light and very well scattered. Highs of 16 to 20°C in just moderate southwesterly breezes.

    Management notes

    Drought conditions, housing bulls and farm safety are all topics for this week's beef management notes.

    In dairy this week, Aidan Brennan looks at reducing grass demand, the outlook for grass growth and says farmers should stay positive during the drought.

    This week's sheep management notes cover drought management, worm burdens, blowfly strike and cobalt supplementation.

    And in tillage, with grain yields appearing to be down on recent years, the option to grow forage catch crops might help to bolster the yield loss.