Irish famers in Northern Ireland are expected to be hit hardest after the recent Brexit ruling. Northern Ireland relied strongly on the European Union relating to their country’s agriculture. According to the Irish Examiner, the Brexit deal could result in a loss of billions of euro in EU grants.
In the U.S., the agriculture value of real estate amounts to roughly $2 trillion, a staggering amount for sure, but Northern Ireland has a much larger emphasis on its ag-industry.
“In terms of agriculture, the Republic of Ireland itself accounts for about 33% of Northern Ireland’s goods exports, and most heavily in terms of agriculture,” said Professor Michael Curran, an American economist at Villanova University. “About 82% of farm income in Northern Ireland comes directly from the EU; from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) grants.”
Curran states that as soon as Brexit is implemented, the grants will go away and all that income could be lost.
“So that’s massively going to impact upon the agricultural sector from a Northern Irish perspective,” Curran added.
Northern farmers were divided over whether or not to remain part of the EU or support themselves without the aid of the CAP grants — which will remain until 2019 — and the rest of the EU benefits. The two sides were split on the issue: the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) — the largest unionist party in the North — campaigned for a “leave” vote for months and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) campaigned for a “remain” vote.
Curran added that a deal between Ireland and the UK is unlikely.
“We cannot return to the kind of trade agreements that existed pre-EU membership in 1973,” Curran said, “which provided special access for agricultural products. That’s not legally possible anymore because of the EU treaties.”
The trade deal in the EU’s hands will determine how hard Ireland’s agriculture sector is affected by Brexit.