When the agricultural community is reported in our media we sometimes forget that agriculture doesn’t just affect farmers. The agricultural economy involves the workers who works in Dairygold etc. We can be blinded by the appearance of hi tech foreign companies in Ireland to the fact that Ireland is a major player in the food industry. It is also an important player in the export of food. As an example around 90% of Irish beef is exported. Ireland is a major exporter of beef. The Kerry Group is one of the major food ingredient companies in the world.
Since Ireland joined the EU in 1973 our dependence on the UK market has fallen. But Britain is still a major market for Irish exports. It is also true that Ireland is an important market for British exports as well. The North has become an important issue in the negotiations between the British and the EU. The only land border between Britain and the EU will be the border between the North and the South. The border will become the land border between the EU and the UK. The Irish government is hoping that it can make the border as soft as possible. They hope that the EU would recognize that a hard border in Ireland could negatively affect the peace process in the North. The Irish government is also worried that a hard border between Ireland and the UK could badly affect the Irish economy. A hard border could have a severe impact on the export of our agricultural goods. Farming organizations and others have warned about the dangers of a hard border on its industry.
The IFA has stated that Brexit is the greatest challenge to Irish farming and the agri food sector since the foundation of the state. According to the IFA Britain is Ireland’s largest export market for food and drink. 40% of Irish food exports go to the UK. The IFA believes that the Irish government needs to insure that the UK market remains as open as possible for the export of Irish food and drink.
The Irish food sector provides hi tech good quality jobs in native companies. Our agricultural sector is an important part of our economy. We also have seen when the economy collapsed after 2008 that our exports were a bright light during that dark time. Our exports helped us survive and grow.
I believe that our agricultural sector is important but it is a neglected part of our economy. I hope that negotiations between the EU and the UK will benefit the Irish economy.