Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture & Food Charlie McConalogue says he is appalled by the UK Farm Minister Andrea Leadsom’s attack on the Common Agriculture Policy.  Her comments, claiming that farmers would be better off outside CAP, fail to recognise the key role it plays in the food production chain on the island of Ireland.

Deputy McConalogue said, “Minister Leadsom’s firebrand attack on the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy clearly demonstrates her blissful ignorance of the subject.   CAP payments play a key role in sustaining small farmers and rural communities on the island of Ireland. While improvements can always be made in its operation, 87% of farmers in the North are dependent on CAP subsidies to sustain their businesses.

“The possibility of a hard border between the North and South would be disastrous, considering the amount of cross-border agri-food trade.  Around one quarter of the Northern Ireland milk pool goes South for processing; along with 36% of Northern Irish lamb.  Meanwhile, large numbers of live cattle and pigs move across the border for breeding and finishing.

“Any return to tariffs placed on agriculture produce going north or south would have a catastrophic effect on cross border trade post-Brexit.  It is imperative that the interests of farmers on the island of Ireland are taken on board in any future EU-UK negotiations due to the interdependent trading relationship currently existing.

“Minister Creed must take the lead on this issue and ensure that the interests of Irish farmers are fully protected from the challenges which Brexit brings with it.  The approach to date has not inspired much confidence, and combined with the comments from Minister Leadsom, raises serious concerns about how the process is being handled”.