IRELAND - Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President Joe Healy has warned that a British exit from the EU would be very damaging for the farming and food sector in Ireland.
Speaking at a briefing with representatives from the agri-food industry in Dublin this morning, the IFA President appealed to the Irish community living in the UK to support the position that keeps the EU intact.
He said: “From an Irish farming and agri-food perspective, it is hugely important for Ireland that the UK remains within the EU. While a UK exit from the EU would be negative overall for the Irish economy, the stakes are highest for farming and the agri-food sector, with our huge dependence on the UK market for our €4.4bn exports, the shared land border, and the potential impact on the CAP budget.”
The UK represents Ireland's most important agri-food export market, accounting for over 40 per cent of Irish agricultural exports.
Joe Healy said: “Should the UK vote to leave the EU, Irish agriculture would undoubtedly suffer negative consequences, both in the short-term and the longer term. Already in 2016, we have seen a weakening of sterling against the euro, arising mainly from the uncertainty on the referendum outcome. This has reduced the competitiveness of Irish exports, with a disproportionate impact on the Irish agri-food sector.”
In the longer term, the uncertainties presented by the changed trading relationship between the UK and EU pose a significant threat, with the potential reintroduction of tariffs, quotas, and border controls.
Concluding, Mr Healy said: “With a long history of emigration to the UK to find work, all Irish farm families have family members, relatives and friends living in the UK and eligible to vote. We are asking farm families, families in rural Ireland and across the country to communicate the concerns and risks that we are highlighting today. Our appeal is to those voting to take the concerns into account and to vote for the UK to remain within the EU.”
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