Sinn Féin MEP Matt Matt Carthy, speaking in Fermanagh at the launch of the party’s document on Farming and Brexit has said the survival of farming and agri-food in the North is hanging in the balance as a result of Brexit.
Matt Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, said:
“Brexit will be a disaster for the people of this island and in particular those involved in farming and agri-food.
“The DUP has serious questions to answer for supporting the Tories and putting our rural communities in such a position. Agriculture faces three key challenges as a result of Brexit:
· Major loss of funding – £236 million a year – an average of £10,184 per farm as well the loss of £186 million from the Rural Development Programme.
· Costly barriers – Irish agriculture operates in a highly integrated manner with many sectors completely all-island in nature. Barriers including tariffs, origin checks, more paperwork, physical border checks and two different regulatory regimes will cause serious disruption.
· Vulnerability to cheap imports as the Tories pursue trade deals which reflect their needs and not those of producers in the north.
“There is also uncertainty as to the future status of the many thousands of EU nationals who are a critical part of the workforce in the agri-food sector in the North.
“We can avoid all of this and continue to grow our farming communities if we achieve designated special status for the North within the EU and negotiate a free and fair trade deal with equivalence of standards in terms of food safety, traceability, animal health and welfare.
“This will ensure continued access to essential markets and CAP farm payments and that country-of-origin labelling take account of the fact that a large number of animals are reared on one part of the island and slaughtered on the other, and another portion of products travel across the border for process.
“There are a range of additional measures which we believe could also assist farming communities deal with the negative impact of Brexit including extending State Aid limits to protect sectors affected by currency fluctuations, the North being able to participate in the EUs quality schemes and a Mutual Recognition Agreement to allow products approved by an agency in one state to be sold in the other without additional testing.
“There is long standing recognition at EU level of the special and unique circumstances that exist in Ireland and given the different membership and associate membership models that already operate within the EU, it is possible to find a solution for Ireland.
“The next step is for all of this to be part of the negotiations when they begin in June.”