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‘Doomsday scenario’ for North dairy industry

Dairy farmers in the North are looking at potential trade tariffs. RollingNews.ie photo


By Anthony Neeson

Northern Ireland’s dairy industry is facing a “doomsday scenario” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The warning was made by the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland which said farms will go to the wall soon after a no-deal because of trade tariffs. A no-deal could lead to milk being dumped by farmers as well as cattle being culled.

Dr. Mike Johnston, CEO of Dairy Council NI said: “Based on Dairy Council calculations in a no-deal Brexit, trade tariffs on both raw milk and finished products moved from NI to the EU would total £320m, before you calculate the cost of the administrative burden customs will place on dairy processors.

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“This tariff represents 25 percent of the value of our entire industry. In a sector where the margin is, at best, three percent or four percent, trade tariffs of that magnitude would wipe out the industry.

“The reality is stark for farmers. Our analysis suggests that the milk price paid to farmers would fall by over ten pence per liter from its current base should such tariffs be imposed.”

Currently, 35 percent of the entire Northern Ireland milk pool is processed at facilities in the Republic.

“The dairy industry in Northern Ireland simply does not have the capacity to process all the milk produced on farms at present, and we are seriously exposed,” Johnston said.

“If we don’t get a Brexit deal and cannot transport raw milk south, without significant delays and/or certification requirements, then our industry is facing a crisis of epic proportions. All processing sites in Northern Ireland will be full while there is no spare capacity to process that volume of milk in Great Britain.”

Meanwhile, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne has said that police in Northern Ireland will not police customs checkpoints.

He was speaking after British Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s new Brexit plans would see Northern Ireland join Britain in leaving the European Union’s Customs Union.

Speaking on the BBC the chief constable said: “At the moment we have no plans to put our police officers in that sort of space [border crossings].

“Obviously, as people would expect, we have a duty to protect people’s lives, so if we have intelligence about threats to people from other agencies such as customs or the border force working in a particular place where they are vulnerable to attack, we will send officers to protect them.

“But I think it’s on a case by case and intelligence-led basis.”