Source: Hard days ahead in dairy

Source: Hard days ahead in dairy

On Friday RTE Radio 1 broadcast a Brexit Special edition of Today with Sean O‘Rourke from Castleblaney, with a strong emphasis on the challenges facing the dairy trade. Eucolait, the EU representative body for dairy has released a position paper – “EU-UK trade relations after Brexit – the position of dairy trade” – which puts the challenges in a wider context.

The UK annually ‘exports’ more than €1 billion worth of dairy products to other EU Member States, whereas ‘imports’ from the EU-27 account for more than € 3 billion. Despite being the EU’s 3rd largest milk producer, the UK is only about 81% self-sufficient in dairy, notably due to high drinking milk consumption. This makes the UK the second biggest dairy importer in the world (if intra-EU trade is considered as external trade) and the largest importer of cheese. In spite of industry efforts to grow production, the UK will remain dependent on imports at least in the medium term.

“Ireland is both the main supplier and customer of the UK. Also politically the divorce will be very complex not least due to the Good Friday agreement and the specific nature of the border separating Northern Ireland from the Republic (future EU external border vs common travel area). In this context, we would like to highlight the huge volumes of raw milk crossing the border from the UK to Ireland every day to be processed there: about 800 million litres in 2016, corresponding to some 12% of Ireland’s milk production pool. Moreover, 75% of the processing facilities in Northern Ireland are fully or jointly owned by Irish cooperatives. A reestablishment of a border, let alone duties, would be extremely harmful to both producers in Northern Ireland and dairies in the Republic of Ireland.”