One third of Irish farms at risk in no-deal Brexit, says central bank

Irish farms not ready to deal with Brexit. (Reuters pic)

DUBLIN: One in three Irish farms will be at risk of going under following a no-deal Brexit, the nation’s central bank warned Tuesday.

“Around one third of all farms are classified as economically vulnerable,” the Central Bank of Ireland said in a statement.

“Any future negative shock – even one less material than Brexit – would further expose the underlying weaknesses in the sector.”

Thirty-eight per cent of Irish agrifood exports are made to Britain according to 2017 figures from the Republic’s department of agriculture.

But if Britain exits the EU on Oct 31 without a deal it may revert to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules which would see tariffs and other barriers imposed to such cross-border trade.

Meat tariffs alone would run close to 50%, according to the Central Bank of Ireland report, leaving beef farms “particularly exposed to Brexit”.

“The sector is heavily reliant on the UK market, faces high tariffs in a hard Brexit scenario and has a significant concentration of smaller farms with low or negative market incomes,” said the bank report.

Joe Healy, president of the Irish Farmer’s Association, said a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic for farmers across the island of Ireland”.

He said farmers back a withdrawal agreement and that “full regulatory and customs alignment is necessary to avoid a hard border in Ireland and to protect the integrity of the single market.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected such plans but has yet to put forth alternatives which would forestall a crash out Brexit next month.

Last week Ireland said it would plan its 2020 budget on the basis of a no-deal Brexit – the latest indication that Dublin now considers it the most likely outcome.