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.

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    Cattle on the run lead to brawl between neighbours over fencing
    A row over cattle fencing resulted in a man being convicted of assault and a second criticised for using inflammatory language in a case described by a judge as “a sorry mess between neighbours”.

    Trevor Deane, aged 34, of Clounties, Dunmanway, Co Cork, denied two charges arising out of the incident on July 29, 2016, when it was claimed he assaulted a neighbour, Michael Casey, causing harm and also assaulted Mr Casey’s brother, Patrick.

    Michael Casey, who runs a car valeting business, gave evidence that at noon on the day he saw five cattle belonging to Deane in his field. He said he failed to make contact with Deane by phone but got the cattle out. At 5pm, he saw between 10 and 12 cows back in his field. He tried to return them but gave up and rang Deane.

    “I said put up your fence, I am fed up with this craic,” the witness told Clonakilty District Court.

    Mr Casey said Deane arrived and then started calling out to him, saying “out in the road” and “are you a coward, or what?”

    He claimed Mr Deane accused him of being “the cause of the trouble”.

    “He started jumping around the road like Muhammad Ali,” Mr Casey said. “Next thing, he made a drive for me.

    “He said ‘you’re a coward’. I said you are only looking for compensation off your neighbour.”

    Mr Casey claimed Deane kicked him and then struck him “a belt of a fist”, knocking him on the ground. He said he managed to roll away, before his brother, Pat, who was also present, shouted at Deane to stop.

    Michael Casey said Deane’s father, Reggie, was present and had accused Mr Casey of “blackguarding” his son.

    “I said you had right to have drowned your young fella, we wouldn’t have these problems at all,” Mr Casey said, in the witness box. He said after that exchange “we got stuck into a row”.

    Images of cuts and scrapes on Mr Casey, taken later that day by gardaí, were shown in court.

    Mr Casey denied there had been issues between the two families for decades and said he could only count four years since 2002 when cattle had not strayed on to his property.

    Patrick Casey said in evidence that Deane seemed “in a violent rage” and after a discussion about the fencing, Deane hit Michael Casey and then hit him in the ear. He said Mr Deane “sort of kicked the legs out from under [his brother]”, who landed in the dyke.

    “I started roaring at him and said ‘stop, for God’s sake, you’ll kill him’.”

    Deane’s solicitor Eamonn Fleming queried why Mr Casey’s initial statement to gardaí gave different estimates on how many cattle were in his field at both times that day while, in evidence, Trevor Deane claimed the Caseys had been abusive to him since he was a teenager and denied going to Mr Casey’s place at all that day.

    He said he had been in Skibbereen Mart — producing a sales invoice to prove it — before returning home for his dinner and then going to an outside farm in Coppeen.

    Deane’s partner Siobhán gave a similar timeline for the day and his father Reggie said, after returning from the mart, he had fallen asleep in front of the television.

    Garda Kay Gaynor said she tried to discuss the incident with Trevor Deane but was unsuccessful and when she met Reggie Deane she said he became abusive.

    Judge Mary Dorgan said “good fences make good neighbours”, adding: “Cows being cows, they break out.”

    She said Mr Casey’s “drowning” comment was “a terribly inflammatory thing to say”.

    “I am not impressed with the evidence I heard from either side,” she added.

    Deane was convicted on both charges and was bound to the peace for 24 months and fined €350.

    *This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.*

    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.

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