Meeting examines Brexit impact on agriculture and food industry
Brexit's effect on the future of the agriculture and food industry was the hot topic at a special meeting in the Loch gCarman Arms, Gorey, recently.
The meeting heard that Brexit will dominate policy discussions for years to come, and that all involved in agriculture and food production need to be engaged and prepared.
The meeting, organised by Cllr Malcolm Byrne, heard from Tara McCarthy, chief executive of Bord Bia; Charlie MacConalogue TD, Fianna Fail's agriculture and food spokesperson; and Damien McDonald, director general of the IFA.
The speakers agreed that a hard Brexit with higher tariffs on produce would be extremely damaging to Irish farming and exporting generally.
Damien McDonald also warned that a tough battle lies ahead to try to maintain farm supports if the EU budget is cut.
Tara McCarthy stressed the importance of the quality of Irish food and that Ireland needs to continue to stress to the British consumer how Irish food can be properly traced. She also said that Bord Bia will continually seek to develop new markets for Irish food.
Charlie MacConalogue spoke of the challenges that any new borders or custom posts would pose, and pointed out how the mushroom industry has been hard hit by the collapse in the value of sterling. He said the government will need to intervene in the coming years if significant currency fluctuations pose a threat to any sector.
The three speakers stressed the importance of Ireland's continued membership of the EU, and how Ireland needs to work with its European partners to ensure Ireland's economic concerns remain high on the agenda of Brexit discussions.
Cllr Malcolm Byrne thanked the speakers and said that Brexit will be one of the dominant political and economic issues for the next decade. 'It is essential that we all don the green jersey to work to attain the best outcomes,' he said.