Jim Woulfe, CEO of Dairygold, stated that there is no economic logic to Brexit. He outlined how the UK are working to become more self-sufficient, but “it will in no way fill the gap that will exist” in terms of the difference between food production and demand. For the agri-food sector that is so dependent on exporting to the UK there is a need for a long transition period.
John Coughlan, Munster Regional Chairperson of the IFA, started by asking if there is a future for farming? The answer is a firm Yes! Mr Coughlan outlined that the growing population, and the growing demand for food, combined with the conditions that exist in Ireland, shows that farming in Ireland has a future, even with the threat of Brexit. He went on to make reference to the potential cost of both Brexit and climate change, which cannot be put back on farmers.
A wide range of issues were raised by people in attendance, including milk recording, afforestation, the bloodstock industry, and knowledge transfer.
The impact of Brexit will be felt by all sectors, from producers to consumers. Across the political spectrum there is agreement that the government must try and ensure that trading conditions remain as close to what we have at present.