Possible dairy cattle cull in NI after ‘no-deal’ Brexit – reports

A no-deal Brexit may result in around 45,000 dairy cattle being culled in Northern Ireland because of new tariffs that would exist for Northern Irish milk exports.

According to a report from the BCC, officials at the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have been warned about the potential for “a major cull of dairy cattle, but they are not listening”.

In a statement to the BBC, Defra denied that a cull was on the cards, saying: “A widespread cull of livestock is absolutely not something that the government anticipates nor is planning for in the event of no-deal.”

The department statement added that the government was “boosting its preparations” to leave the EU on October 31, “whatever the circumstances”.

However, an individual associated with the industry told the UK broadcaster that the government’s response was a “metaphorical shrug of the shoulders”.

At present, there are roughly 310,700 dairy cattle in Northern Ireland, with 700-800 million litres of milk being exported across the border into the Republic of Ireland each year.

The average trade price for that milk equates to roughly 26p/L. However, a no-deal Brexit would see a tariff of 19p/L. For consumers in the republic, that would push the price of Northern Irish milk to around 49c/L.

Another insider from the Northern Irish dairy industry told the BBC: “We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of litres of milk going to waste, and then farmers would have no choice but to reduce their herds.”

‘Sense of panic’

In other Brexit-related news, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said that a “sense of panic is now gripping the UK meat industry”.

The BMPA said that the message from the UK – that the country is serious about leaving the EU – “may not have convinced European politicians yet, but it has convinced continental retails buyers who are refusing to agree long-term supply contracts with UK meat exporters”.

“If this continues, we could be witnessing the start of a structural and long-term decline in our nation’s farming capacity and heritage,” the BMPA continued.