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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    Tractor run and BBQ raises €12,000 for charity
    The FCI has raised a substantial sum of money for six charities from their annual tractor run and BBQ.

    Up to €12,000 was raised by the Association of Farm Contractors in Ireland (FCI) through its annual charity BBQ and auction held on 15 July in Co Meath.

    Contractor brothers Patrick, Peter and Michael Farrelly hosted the event, which also included the Mickey Farrelly Tractor Run in memory of their late father.

    To date, the FCI annual charity BBQ and auctions have raised over €115,000

    The event saw a strong attendance and was supported by a large number of food suppliers.

    “We are indebted to all of the generous food suppliers who supported us in staging the 2018 FCI charity BBQ. We also thank the contributions from the huge attendance, which have provided us with the opportunity to support so many worthwhile charities," said FCI general secretary Peter Farrelly.

    “To date, the FCI annual charity BBQ and auctions have raised over €115,000 for many local and national charities,” he said.

    The six charities that received money included:

  • Meath Palliative Care (€3,500)
  • Save our Sons & Daughters (SOSAD) (€2,000)
  • Support Organisation for Trisomy (SOFT) (€2,000)
  • Order of Malta, Kells (€1,000)
  • Order of Malta, Swords (€1,500)
  • Carnaross Community First Responders (€2,000)
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    TB compensation – concern over ‘subtle pressure’ on valuers
    The ICSA has stated that higher rates should be paid for higher-calibre cattle.

    Valuers who determine TB compensation rates should be given free rein to do their jobs without interruption from the Department of Agriculture, according to the ICSA.

    “When it comes to breeding stock, or animals with show potential, there has to be flexibility in the system to allow valuers to give an honest and true assessment of what an animal is worth.

    "In these cases, average price ranges from thousands of animals sold in marts each week is meaningless,” ICSA animal health and welfare chair Hugh Farrell said.

    Too much subtle pressure is being put on valuers

    Currently, a ceiling of €3,000 is applied for payments in respect of any individual bovine reactor animals.

    Exceptions are made for a €4,000 payment for one stock bull per breakdown or €5,000 for one pedigree stock bull.

    “[The] ICSA is concerned that too much subtle pressure is being put on valuers to avoid giving the real value of a high-calibre cow or heifer.

    While the farmer can appeal the valuation, so too can the Department

    “As it stands, the odds are stacked against a farmer who has TB reactors. While the farmer can appeal the valuation, so too can the Department.

    “Unless there is a strong body of evidence that a valuer is continuously getting it wrong, the Department should accept that, at times, there will be stock that are much more valuable than any paper exercise in average values.”

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    New beef group to be launched
    An 86-point plan to try to turn around the current issues within the beef industry is to be launched on Monday night.

    The Irish Farmers Journal understands a launch meeting will take place tonight in Co Meath of a newly formed group of beef farmers who have come together because of deep concerns over where the beef industry is going and the lack of profit for the primary producer.

    The Irish Farmers Journal has seen the launch document, which includes an 86-point plan to try to turn around the current issues within the beef industry.

    Number of phases

    The plan outlines a number of phases, which include several references to producer groups and outlines an aim to have “50% of the country’s beef cattle sold through producer groups in the next three years”.

    Under phase one, the group proposes to hand in a number of demands to factories and give them time to respond.

    If the response isn’t adequate, the group proposes “not to send any cattle to a factory under a set price” and “not to send cattle to a particular factory at short notice”.

    Bonus

    The group has also proposed a suckler-bred bonus to reflect the higher costs of suckler beef production.

    The Irish Farmers Journal understands that over 1,000 farmers have engaged with the group so far and the target for the group is to grow participant numbers very fast to add further strength to its calls to action.

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