ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch today said at the All-Island civic dialogue on Brexit that Irish farmers cannot continue to carry the cost of exchange rate fluctuations resulting from Brexit uncertainty. “While in the short term, falling beef prices due to sterling weakness may have been inevitable, in the medium term they are unsustainable. ICSA rejects the importation of the cost of Brexit which is what food processors are doing when they pass back the impact of weaker sterling to the primary producer.”

“The food industry needs to get tough with UK supermarkets. We have already seen multinationals such as Unilever take this approach.  The reality is that sterling has got weaker, not that the euro has got stronger. Therefore, the logical outcome is that no matter where supermarkets in the UK go, the reality is that weaker sterling must result in inflation in the UK. What we see at present, however, is that this reality is being evaded because Irish food exporters are happy to pass back most of the exchange rate movement in the form of lower prices to the primary producer.”

“This is not sustainable and will lead to farmers having to cut back on production because prices are now well below the costs of production.”

ICSA is calling on the EU to learn from the Brexit vote which means negotiating an outcome which favours maximum trade with the UK with minimum obstacles. “We need to ensure that trading relationships between the EU and UK are prioritised in the Brexit process. This means that it cannot be business as usual in the TTIP and Mercosur negotiations. We need to see what the future of trade between our two islands looks like and what will be the strategy of the UK in terms of international trade deals.”

ICSA supports the Government strategy of involving all sectors in the Brexit approach and the association believes that all Ministers have a key role to play.