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Dear dairy farmers, dear interested parties,

Brexit: Moment of Truth Approaches

There is a period during any negotiating process when pretence falls away and the bluffing stops. As far as Irish farmers and the wider Irish agri-food sector is concerned, the Brexit process has entered that period now. We are seven weeks away from the date on which the UK exits – unless they ask for an extension to Article 50, something that seems increasingly desirable without necessarily being possible as their domestic political chaos continues. That is where the Mother of Parliaments is at now: they can’t agree, and they can’t even agree to stop the clock while they see if there’s any possibility that they can work out something on which they agree.

In the meantime, the red lights are flashing in every farm, co-op and processing plant in Ireland. We export approximately €5 billion worth of food to the UK. They, in turn, export about €3 billion worth of food back to us. Cheddar is an interesting example, we’ll process the milk and produce cheddar somewhere in Munster or Leinster, it’ll be transported to the UK where it’ll be sprinkled on a dough base which is then stuck into some superfluous packaging with ‘pizza’ printed on it, that in turn will be transported back across the Irish sea to be sold, often in one of the UK owned supermarket chains. Our farming, processing, distribution and retail networks are so intertwined as to be almost indivisible.   

From the day after the UK Referendum, the Irish Government made it clear that they were going to prioritise the North-South ‘Political’ dimension - that is the need to preserve the absence of any border installations between the two jurisdictions - over the West-East ‘Economic’ dimension which recognised the fact that the economic ties and trade between Ireland and Great Britain are multiple times greater than the economic ties and trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland or, indeed, between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. We know why they felt they had to choose this priority, those readers old enough to remember the events of 1968 to 1994 in Northern Ireland will understand too why the Irish Government was steadfast that anything that might induce elements to reignite conflict had to be avoided.

But right now, at the time of writing, a Commission spokesman has just confirmed that in the event of a ‘crash out’ No Deal Brexit that a hard border will, in the Commission’s view, be inevitable. Moreover, the UK is stumbling along with no majority for any coherent exit arrangements and all against a background that has that ‘crash out’ as the default setting with all the attendant tariffs etc. that WTO Rules entail.

The two targets Ireland set itself were:  No return of a hard border between North and South and (particularly) the continuation of our tariff-free multi-billion Euro, centuries-old food trade with Britain. Right now, neither target is looking particularly achievable and the moment of truth is fast approaching.

Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Supplier Association ICMSA

Farmers’ border demonstration to demand a stop to CETA & Co.

© Thilo Schmülgen

(Lichtenbusch, 25.01.2019) With their tractors, farmers from 17 European organisations and two umbrella organisations are demonstrating together with civil society actors for an EU trade policy that is fair and climate-friendly around the globe. For a Europe with solidarity. No relaunch of TTIP.


Lessons learnt from American dairy policy on the sharing of added value

© Vanessa Langer

Improving the mechanisms to share added value within sectors and strengthening producer organisation are two subjects at the centre of discussions on agricultural policy, both at the French and the European level. In France, the dairy sector has been particularly affected by these issues since the abolishment of dairy quotas and the 'contractualisation' implemented as of 2010 does not seem to have been the adequate response.


We have had enough of these low milk prices!

© AbL

Based on initial publications and advertising campaigns related to milk, milk price levels in 2019 are set to be alarmingly low for dairy farmers. Due to the disastrous feed harvest and the consequent drastic increase in costs, there was an appeal for higher milk prices as far back as last autumn.


Dairy together – a global network for a future-proof dairy market


About 600 dairy farmers and guests from all over Germany met once again at the traditional symposium of the German dairy farmers' association BDM e.V. at the International Green Week in Berlin. This year, it was held on the first Saturday and was entitled "Dairy together – a global network for a future-proof dairy market."


Milk producer in Beaumont-Hamel just wants fair remuneration for his work

© Courrier picard

Receiving fair remuneration for his work. That is all Ludovic Magniez, milk producer in Beaumont-Hamel in Northern France, aspires to. However, it's easier said than done: "Our parents would sell milk at two francs per litre in the 1980's. Today, the average price is 33 euro cents – the same price, except that production costs are much higher."


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