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Brexit and Beyond–Agricultural Perspective

Brexit and Beyond–Agricultural Perspective
Speakers at the Brexit and Beyond Conference Professor Peter Midmore, University of Aberystwyth; Dr Noel Cawley, Chairman Teagasc along with Trevor Donnellan, Principal Research Economist, Teagasc; Tim Lloyd, President of the Agricultural Economics Society; Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development; Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament; Professor Alan Matthews, Department of Economics, Trinity College, Dublin and Professor Alan Swinbank, Agricultural Economics Society

Examining the potential impact of Brexit at the farm level, Dr Fiona Thorne of Teagasc said that while all Irish farm types would be negatively affected, the Irish beef sector appeared to be particularly vulnerable

Agricultural economists from over 24 countries were in Dublin today to discuss the implications of Brexit on agriculture in the European Union.

Delivering the Keynote address on the future of agricultural policy in Europe, at the Agricultural Economics Society annual conference being held in the RDS, today, Monday, 24 April, Mr Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said that “a priority of the Commission was to mitigate the damage to the Irish and European economies and particularly the agri-food economy arising from the Brexit decision of the UK electorate.”  The Commissioner noted and welcomed the greater realism of the UK position concerning its future economic relationship with the EU.

Mairead McGuinness, MEP, also addressed the conference. She said that the Brexit vote wasn’t about economics but about emotion, and that the outcome of the negotiations will also depend on emotion, between the UK and EU. Ms McGuinness noted the central role the EU Parliament will play in the Brexit process. On the upcoming CAP reform, she stressed the need for the CAP to continue to support farm incomes, productivity and the environment.

Examining the potential impact of Brexit at the farm level, Dr Fiona Thorne of Teagasc said that while all Irish farm types would be negatively affected, the Irish beef sector appeared to be particularly vulnerable. Dr Thorne noted that the beef sector could experience a fall in beef prices due to Brexit and lose some of its CAP funded direct income support payments if the next CAP reform has to be designed to fit within a smaller EU budget that might result from Brexit.

Trinity College Professor of Agricultural Policy Alan Matthews said that as part of the upcoming CAP reform there could be calls for member state co-financing of pillar 1 of the CAP. Professor Matthews noted that the EU budget deliberations and the reduction in the size of the budget that will result from Brexit will shape the ambition of EU agricultural policy for the medium term. Professor Matthews termed Brexit a “most unfortunate mess” and stressed the need for early clarity on the transitional arrangements to mitigate the negative impact of Brexit.

Professor Alan Swinbank of the University of Reading told the conference that to facilitate a future Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU, and between the EU and other countries around the world, the EU should consider, on a phased basis, the unilateral reduction of its continuing very high tariff levels.

Teagasc economist Trevor Donnellan highlighted the main Brexit concerns of the agri-food sector in Ireland.  He said that there was a need for arrangements that ease the transition between current EU-UK trading relationships and those that will prevail following Brexit.