Commenting on the outcome of the Chequers meeting, IFA President Joe Healy said, “While there are some signs of movement by the British government on agriculture and food issues, the UK statement falls far short of the commitments and clarity required by Irish and EU farmers.
“We will need to see the detail of the UK white paper due next week to make a full assessment of the UK’s position.”
“The statement from Chequers once again includes a generous helping of double-think by the UK in wanting to have their cake and eat it, which is unacceptable.
“The proposed Facilitated Customs Arrangement and EU-UK Free Trade Area, under which the UK would control its own tariffs and trade with the rest of the world, will not work for agriculture and food. It would allow the UK to open the floodgates to cheap food imports, for example Brazilian beef, that would not only destroy the UK market for Irish farmers but would also wreak havoc across the entire EU market.
“It is also not consistent with the UK commitment in last December’s Joint Report to maintain full alignment with the EU rules which support the all island economy and the Good Friday Agreement.”
“The UK offer to make ‘an upfront choice to commit by treaty to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules’ on goods including agri-food is a positive step as far as it goes. But what’s the value of a UK treaty commitment if the Westminster Parliament can opt out whenever it wants?”
Joe Healy said that IFA would measure the UK offer against the need to maintain the integrity of the customs union and single market. “IFA is clear that there can be no room for fudged commitments.”
Joe Healy said “IFA’s position is: no border on the island of Ireland, no border in the Irish Sea and no scope for the UK to pursue a cheap food policy. That means that the UK must apply the EU’s common external tariff and tariff rate quotas which limit the import volumes of agricultural and food products.”