A hard Brexit tariff scenario would lead to an existential crisis for cross border dairy trade and Northern Irish milk, Dale Farm CEO Nick Whelan has said.
More than 800m litres of milk moves across the Irish border for processing each year.
Dale Farm CEO Nick Whelan stated that if there is a no deal Brexit, with tariffs on Northern Irish milk crossing the border to be processed.
“Believe it or not 53pc of the milk produced in Northern Ireland in a no deal scenario would be subject to an EU tariff. These tariffs are prohibitive and in the region of 40pc. In an industry that makes 3pc you don’t have to be an economist to work out that’s an existential challenge to the industry,” he told farmers at the annual Agricultural Science Association conference in Kilkenny.
“There is no solution to the end process for that milk if there is a tariff barrier of 19p per litre on milk, it’s about 152m of a tariff on milk coming down. The industry can’t afford that and that presents us with an environmental and animal welfare challenge in the short term so something sensible has to be done here.”
Milk tankers cross the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland 33,000 times a year – or over 370 a day, according to ICOS. Northern Ireland produces around 2.2 billion litres of milk a year, of which some 30pc is processed in the Republic. Milk and dairy products move in both directions, sometimes several times.
However, Mr Whelan added that the trend away from non-carbonated drinks should be viewed as positive for the dairy industry.
“There are fantastic opportunities for dairy. The trend away from non carbonated drinks to carbonated, that trend on its own presents massive opportunities for dairy to re-invent itself. 350m litres of non dairy milks are in the UK marketplace and that has to be an opportunity. I’m optimistic.”