Government needs to stand up for Irish farmers in EU Brexit negotiations - Martin Kenny TD
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Kenny TD has said that the Irish Government needs to stand up for Irish farmers in the EU Brexit negotiations. Specifically, he has asked that the Government support Sinn Féin’s call for an EU Agri-Brexit fund.
Speaking at the final day of the National Ploughing Championships in Co. Offaly, Martin Kenny said:
“I was in the Dáil chamber earlier today for the address the EU’s Chief Negotiator on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt. I noted his comments that the Irish border is an unnatural border and that it meanders through meadows and farmlands. He is correct.
“It is also a fact that any new restrictions on cross-border agricultural trade as a result of Brexit will be a devastating development for farmers, particularly in border counties.
"In the Agri-Food sector, 40% of milk from the North goes South, while 40% of pigs from the south currently go North.
“Already, the mushroom industry in Ireland is in disarray, with fluctuations in sterling leading to massive losses. The fact that the contracts have been negotiated in sterling, means that Irish producers are being forced to accept prices way below any sustainable level.
“Farming communities, North and South, have always worked together and that is the way things should continue into the future.
“Brexit will also have major implications for the Common Agricultural Policy. One of the biggest net contributors to the budget will be gone. Direct payments to farmers in the North of Ireland will cease.
“All of this is bad news for rural communities North and South. It is time for the Irish Government to work directly with EU leaders to prioritise the interests of Irish farming communities to see put in place realistic measures to lessen Brexit’s negative impact on rural Ireland.
"Sinn Féin is seeking the establishment of an EU AGRI-Brexit Fund to assist the farming sector cope with massive losses due to currency fluctuations and market disturbances and we need the Irish Government to support this demand.”