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Anderson MEP to address Farmers on BREXIT

18 March, 2016 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will address farmers on the implications of a Brexit on the farming and wider agri-food sector at a meeting in Ballerin GAA Club this evening at 7 o’clock. She will be accompanied by fellow MEP Matt Carthy and Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan MLA and East Derry representative Caoimhe Archibald.

Martina Anderson will tell the farming families:

“The British Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise of a referendum on whether or not to continue with EU membership opens up the very real possibility of an EU withdrawal. 

“In any case, the north MUST have its own say, specifically on whether the 6 counties remains part of Europe or not.

“Clearly Brexit would have disastrous consequences for business, for agriculture and for rural development across Ireland. 

“The complete absence of information about what type of relationships will be negotiated with the rest of the world and the EU, means no one knows the full consequences of a vote to exit.

“One of the first challenges in the event of a vote to exit the EU would be how to replace the body of EU legislation, running to well over 100,000 documents, which impact on the functioning of a huge range of issues affecting our everyday lives, including human rights, employment, consumer protection, transport, energy, competition policy, taxation, customs, unions and company law, social policy, environment and the free movement of goods and services, workers and capital.

“World trade is vitally important for the agri-food industry in Ireland. Only 27% of food and drink produced in the north is sold in the north. Around 21% of total external sales of food and drink from the north go to the south. A further 16% go to other EU Member States. 

When all goods (not just food and drink) are considered, then 60% of exports originating from the north go to EU Member States.

It is extremely difficult to predict what access our agri-food industry might have to EU markets following Brexit.  

“Trade access to the EU is something that would have to be negotiated in the wake of a vote to leave the EU.

“In the worst case scenario, all exports to the EU would be subject to the large import tariffs that protect the EU from imports. In any trade talks, the discussions on agricultural trade are always the most difficult.

“So, I have no doubt that a Brexit would leave the agri-food sector both north and south in a more difficult situation with respect to having access to export markets.

“Of course, an exit from the EU would mean direct agricultural support payments from the EU would stop. We currently receive €326million/£236 million annually to support our farmers, we also secured £186.5 million sterling of EU funds towards our new Rural Development Programme. The new EMFF scheme which will support our future fishing industry is worth £16.9 million to our local fishermen.

“And last year SF Minister Michelle O Neill negotiated a £5.1 million EU targeted aid package for our dairy farmers. Therefore, in terms of Agriculture and Rural Development, we will have drawn down a further £1.9 billion of European funding between now and 2020.

“It is clear that there would not be sufficient funds within the block grant to permit the Assembly to continue making payments at this level or anywhere close to it and given the Tory’s position against subsidies, I’m certain that they won’t match this support which our industry needs.” 

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