Farmers fear the UK’s plans for Brexit could lead to international trade deals that would undercut prices and “destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Irish family farmers”.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) says the UK proposals could see it strike trade deals with non-EU countries, which would have a devastating impact on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

IFA president Joe Healy said that London’s proposals for a UK-EU free trade area, while also maintaining its own independent trade policy, are “seriously flawed and totally unacceptable to Irish farmers”.

“Those who see the white paper as representing a solution for frictionless trade, north-south and east-west, are seriously mistaken,” he warned.

I recognise that the UK’s commitments to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules represent a major step forward towards avoiding regulatory checks. However, this doesn’t go far enough.

“The UK must also abandon its ambition to pursue an independent trade policy in agri-food. Otherwise, the proposed UK-EU free trade area would result in the destruction of the CAP and the European model of family farming.”

Mr Healy said EU negotiators at EU-UK Brexit talks this week must be upfront and rule out the UK having an independent trade policy in the area of agri-food.

“The UK white paper is explicit that outside the CAP,,” he said. “The UK would have ‘an ability to change tariffs and quotas in the future’ on agri-food products.

This would enable the UK to negotiate its own trade deals with South America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand at prices that would undercut European beef, dairy, pigmeat, lamb, and poultry producers. That would destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Irish family farmers and millions across Europe.

“No new customs arrangement can achieve frictionless borders unless the UK commits to the EU’s common external tariffs and quotas on food imports.

“IFA’s policy position is very clear: No border on the island of Ireland, no border in the Irish Sea, and no scope for the UK to pursue a cheap food policy.”

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