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Brexit would hit farmers and agri-food sector – MEP Kelly

Published: Mon, 11 April 2016

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Farmers and the Irish-UK agri-food sectors would be negatively impacted by a “Brexit” or exit by the UK from the European Union, according to Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly.

“The UK is Ireland’s largest export market for food and drink. In 2013, the UK bought half of our total beef exports. 42% of Irish food and drink exports, worth €4.1 billion, also went to Britain that year, according to the Department of Agriculture.

“But it is a two-way street. Ireland is just as important to the UK. In fact, the UK exports more to Ireland than it does to China, India and Brazil combined. We are the UK’s fifth largest market. We buy more British food and non-alcoholic drinks than any other country – €3.6 billion worth in 2012 alone.

“A Brexit would create a great deal of uncertainty as to future trading terms and regulations between the two neighbouring countries, though the Irish government would do its utmost to support Irish exports in that eventuality.”

Mr Kelly also pointed to a study released by the UK-based National Farmers Union (NFU) which found that farmers there would lose out by as much as €34,000 (£27,400 stg) a year if the UK votes to leave the EU, unless new national taxpayer subsidies are put in place to bolster farm incomes. EU subsidies to the UK are worth about €3 billion a year at current levels.

“Trade, business, jobs and growth are all incredibly important considerations for those eligible to vote in the UK referendum on EU membership on June 23rd,” said Mr Kelly said, a member of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee.

“Since its foundation, the EEC and now the EU has supported farmers in their work to put food on our tables. Ireland and the UK joined the very first accession to the Union in 1973 in order to continue and strengthen our trading partnership.

“The EU has since grown to 28 Member States and a Single Market of 500 million citizens. The Union has always been a work in progress, but the UK would be better able to achieve reforms by working alongside other Member States, like Ireland, from within the EU.”

Irish citizens living in the UK will be entitled to vote in the UK’s referendum on EU membership on June 23rd.

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