In a statement released today, the Dairy Council of Northern Ireland has warned that a hard Brexit will mean that the dairy industry in Northern Ireland will be “facing a crisis of epic proportions”.
Chief Executive Mike Johnston said that there must be a managed exit from the European Union if dairy farmers and dairy processing businesses in Northern Ireland are to survive post Brexit.
The tariffs on raw milk and dairy products exported from Northern Ireland into Europe may total £320m, according to the DCNI and at the moment, these tariffs would represent 25% of the value of the entire industry and are are at a point that they could “wipe out the industry”. The DCNI also predicted that the milk price paid to farmers could fall by over 10 pence per litre should any no deal tariffs be implemented.
The main issue is processing as currently 35% of the entire milk produced in Northern Ireland is processed in the Republic and the lack of a processing facility in Northern Ireland leaves the entire dairy industry on the brink of ruin.
Despite rebuffs by the British government earlier in the year, there is now real fear that cattle may need to be culled should there be no way for their milk to be processed.
DCNI’s Chief Executive 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.
“If we crash out on 31st October, we do not have the capacity to process all the milk that will be produced, and we will not be able to afford to pay EU tariffs nor navigate the EU certification requirements such that we can process that milk in the Republic of Ireland.
“Put simply, it is questionable if dairy farming and dairy processor businesses will survive unless there is a deal. NI farmers, processors and customers need a deal to mitigate trade tariffs and enable the continued movement and trade in raw milk and finished products.”