Livestock representatives from the IFA and the UK Farming Unions recently met in Belfast to discuss Brexit and the trade implications for the livestock sector.
The organisations agreed it is essential that free trade is maintained between the United Kingdom and the European Union post-Brexit. This must include securing a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (ROI).
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said, “The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has brought into focus many issues for the cattle and sheep sector in Ireland and the UK. Our countries have strong trade links for both livestock and red meat products and it will be essential that we have a free trade agreement in order to secure a healthy future for these vulnerable sectors.”
Existing trade links between Ireland and the UK are well established and play a vital role in each economy. Angus Woods said politicians must take this into consideration during Brexit negotiations. “Over 50 per cent of Irish beef exports are marketed in the UK and nearly 40 per cent of the UK’s beef exports go to ROI.
“In terms of sheep, the fact that over 40 per cent of Northern Ireland’s lambs are processed in the Republic of Ireland and 90 per cent of the UK’s lamb exports are destined for the European market shows that there is a lot hanging on achieving a progressive free trade arrangement.”
IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey also attended the meeting with the NFU and UFU in Belfast.
The farming organisations agree that in order to achieve favourable trading conditions between the UK and EU post-Brexit, there must be equivalent standards for agricultural practices and processing. “The existing standards that are in place will give us a solid foundation to work from and help ease the negotiating process. The Irish and UK farming organisations are committed to finding practical solutions that allow for the harmonious trade of livestock and red meat products between the UK and the EU to continue post-Brexit,” said Angus Woods.