No-deal Brexit ‘would devastate’ NI farming

The latest set of UK Government’s Brexit ‘no deal’ technical papers further reinforce the importance of the UK leaving the EU with a deal in place, according to Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Commenting on the papers, UFU president Ivor Ferguson said: “The latest notices include one which relates to the export of animals and animal products and suggests we would face a cliff-edge scenario if we leave the EU with no deal.

“This is completely unacceptable and would be disastrous for farming in Northern Ireland, particularly for our sheep industry, and for the economy.

The papers confirm what we already knew: A ‘no-deal’ Brexit is bad for farming.

The UFU says the papers underline the importance of securing a deal that delivers free and frictionless trade with the EU.

“We understand that the government must prepare for all eventualities but it is critical that it does everything it can to ensure the no deal scenario is avoided.

“If we leave the EU without a deal the UK becomes a ‘third country’ trading partner.”

This would mean tariffs, checks, paperwork, and delays; ultimately, a ‘no deal’ poses a serious threat to livelihoods and businesses, the UFU president warned.

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains a key issue. The UFU has stressed that any solution must ensure minimal disruptions to trade north and south.

At the same time, it must not hamper trade east-west, the farmers’ organisation added.

“Great Britain is our biggest market and the Republic of Ireland has always been one of our main trading partners,” Ferguson stressed.

Trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland existed long before either country joined the EEC. It is essential that it is maintained.

The UFU believes that it is possible for the UK and EU to reach a deal, however farmers must be prepared.

“The worst possible outcome for the farming industry is a no deal. We continue to work with our farming union counterparts in GB to urge both sides to ensure an exit deal is agreed.”