IFA president Joe Healy said the findings of a report examining the impact of Brexit on Ireland’s trade and economy, are very stark for farming and food in Ireland.
The report was published by Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys.
The IFA president said: "We are not surprised to see that our sector faces such a catastrophic outcome in the event of a hard Brexit. The severe impact across the board is something IFA has raised at all political levels since before the referendum.”
Mr Healy said this warning should serve to refocus Government efforts towards securing an outcome that avoids this bleak scenario for Ireland’s largest indigenous sector.
He said the retention of free trade in agriculture and food products between the EU and UK must be a priority.
“Understandably, there has been much focus on ensuring there is no hard border in Ireland. The December 2017 commitment in relation to Regulatory Alignment with the Single Market and Customs Union is significant in avoiding such a scenario. However, for the Irish agri-food sector, the focus needs to be on the relationship between the EU and the entirety of the UK.
“North-South Regulatory alignment will help to solve one problem – no hard border in Ireland. East-West Regulatory Alignment has the potential to deliver a lot more – to avoid major disruption for Irish food exporters to our largest market, Britain.”
Mr Healy warned that, post-Brexit, there cannot have a scenario where the UK government can do as it pleases in terms of agricultural trade with third countries. “If the UK wants continued access to the EU market, the EU must insist that the UK will not be free to open their markets to low-standard or low-value products from outside the EU.”
Concluding, the IFA president said, as the discussions intensify, the IFA hopes and expects to see an early agreement on the transition phase, which will give some certainty post March 2019.