The Ulster Farmers’ Union is calling on the UK government to commit to applying reciprocal tariffs for agricultural goods if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31.
UFU president, Ivor Ferguson, says in order to safe-guard food production in a no-deal situation the UK government must treat all agriculture commodities as sensitive.
“If the EU applies tariffs, the UK should reciprocate at the same level and trade can be managed through the introduction of tariff-rate quotas (TQRs) where there is a domestic producer interest. However, even with reciprocal tariffs the damage a no-deal Brexit will do to our industry is catastrophic,” he said.
“The UK’s departure from the EU must be orderly. A no-deal situation is the worst possible outcome for Northern Ireland’s farming families and will create disastrous consequences. Steep export tariffs, additional checks and regulations, combined with a proposed zero percent tariff on agricultural good from NI to ROI, will result in significant disruption and pose a logistical nightmare for farm businesses,” he said.
“If we end up in a no-deal scenario, our members across all our policy committees have said there must be an immediate amendment to the proposed UK no-deal tariff structure. We must mirror existing EU tariff levels to ensure viability of primary producers. It cannot be overstated how important agri-food is to the NI economy. It is NI’s largest manufacturer and leading exporter, turning over nearly £5 billion every year and employing over 90,000 people. Farmers are the industry’s bedrock and everything must be done to ensure the future viability of family-run farm businesses,” said Mr Ferguson.