IFA President Tim Cullinan, who is attending the National Farmers Union Conference in Birmingham today, said that it’s clear that Irish and UK farmers have a common cause on high UK food standards and fair competition.
“Irish and UK farmers often compete for shelf space in the UK, but we have always done so on a level playing field with common standards and a common rule book,” he said.
“Now, there is a real risk that UK politicians want to reduce food standards for imports so they can use access to their market as a bargaining chip in trade deals with non-EU countries,” he said.
“While we respect the UK’s right to make their own decisions, the EU has to be clear. If the UK want continued access to the EU market, there must be fair play. They must maintain common standards and the common external tariff.”
“UK and European consumers have always insisted on the highest standards for their food. They expect this to continue. Farmers in Ireland and the UK cannot be undercut by substandard food imports which fail to meet consumer expectations,” he said.
“Our colleagues in the UK are working hard lobbying their Government to maintain high standards so that their own farmers have a level playing field in their own market. So, we have a common cause on this issue – fair competition,” he said.
Tim Cullinan said IFA and NFU would continue to work together on this crucial issue. “Both of us are committed to working together to maintain the highest food and traceability standards. Farming and food are too important to be sacrificed in these talks.”