Today, Michael Creed, the agriculture minister of Ireland, promised a “substantial” aid package to farmers if they suffer some losses as a result of new tariffs that will be imposed by the United Kingdom under a no-deal Brexit scenario.
The Irish Farmers Association estimates that the tariffs of the WTO on beef and livestock sector of the country will impose a direct cost amounting to 800 million euro per year, devastating the 3-billion-euro industry and placing thousands of farmers out of business.
The beef sector is especially exposed to the new tariffs, with half of all the exports going to the United Kingdom.
In an interview with Reuters, Creed disclosed that the Irish government will seek to provide domestic state aid including intervention and grants. Dublin may also provide private storage aid (PSA) for the industry, a measure usually reserved by the European Union for smoothing out the seasonal imbalances between demand and supply.
In addition, Creed said that Ireland would be applying to the European Commission for exceptional aid under the rules of the Common Market Organisation covering agricultural products.
He stated: “We are very satisfied that the Commission recognises the necessity for that and we have a substantial package.”
He added: “What we have also secured is the ability of the exchequer here under state aid rules to also intervene.”
Creed said that Ireland would seek the financial aid of the European Union based on the precedent set when exceptional support was given to Finland and the Baltic states after the 2014 ban of Russia on food imports from the bloc. Moscow imposed the ban in retaliation for the sanctions that were imposed by the European Union over the annexation of Crimea.
He said that Ireland would make a case to the Commission that the support for its primary producers would limit any potential contagion from the tariffs the will be imposed by the United Kingdom to other European countries.
He stated: “Because otherwise, we’ll be looking for a home for 300,000 tonnes of beef in other European Union markets.”
He said that whatever the level of preparedness or government intervention, the fallout from the UK leaving the European Union without a deal cannot be completely eliminated.
He added: “There will be cost implications, there will be job implications, there will be profit implications. And that’s the tragic reality of Brexit, in any manifestation.”