The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president, Joe Healy, and national livestock chairman, Angus Woods, have met with the leader of the French Beef Farmers' Association (FNB) and Committee of Professional Agricultural Organisations (COPA) beef president, Jean Pierre Fleury to discuss beef, Brexit, CAP and trade deals.
Mr Healy, who, along with Mr Woods, met with the French and EU livestock leaders this week in Dublin, said that the IFA is working very closely with its European colleagues in COPA to ensure they have a full understanding of the Brexit issues for Irish and European farmers and the agri-food sector. The IFA has worked hard in ensuring that the Irish Government keeps farming and the food sector top of the Brexit agenda, he said.
“We outlined our key priorities on Brexit around maintaining free trade with the UK and protecting the CAP budget,” he said.
The IFA/FNB/COPA delegations also met with Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, on Mr Woods’ farm in Co. Wicklow. In addition, the delegation held meetings with senior officials in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as well as Meat industry Ireland and Bord Bia.
On Brexit, Mr Fleury said: “European farmers understand that if there is not an acceptable solution to Brexit, particularly on beef, then this will become a problem for the European beef market. We cannot allow this happen.”
The IFA/FNB/COPA delegation also discussed CAP and forthcoming proposals from Commissioner Phil Hogan, as well as EU trade negotiations with Mercosur. Mr Woods said it was agreed that ensuring a strong CAP budget, with Pillar I and Pillar II payments to address the income problems in the livestock sector, are the priorities.
On Mercosur, IFA, FNB and COPA are strongly of the view that the EU Commission should not proceed with any negotiations on beef in view of the current developments on corruption in the Brazilian meat sector and the Brexit challenge at EU level.