Will Brexit affect Irish agriculture?

1 September, 2017

This August, following the UK vote to leave the EU last year, the National Farm Research Unit asked 347 farmers across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland “Will Brexit have an impact on Irish farming?”

Some 77 per cent of farmers said Brexit will have an impact across Ireland compared to just 3 per cent of farmers interviewed that said no.

Fig 1. Overall results

Source: National Farm Research Unit poll with 347 farmers in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland participating in the survey from 4th August – 8th September 2017.

When looking at the results by country, generally both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland mirrored the overall result with ‘yes’ being the most popular answer (78 per cent and 64 per cent) followed by ‘don’t know’ (19 per cent and 28 per cent) and ‘no’ at the end of the scale (3 per cent and 8 per cent). These figures are a strong indication that the majority of Irish farmers believe Brexit will have an impact on Irish farming.

Fig 2. Results by country

Ireland remains in the EU along with 27 other countries. However, last week (6th September), The Cattle Site reported that the Irish Farmers’
Association President, Joe Healy had called for Government action because beef farmers are losing around ¤2M a week due to Sterling depreciation and the volume of cattle exports to the UK.

There appears to be differing opinions between farmers and ag professionals in Ireland over the opportunities that Brexit holds. AgriLand reported last week that 51 per cent of ag professionals feel Brexit could offer positive opportunities for Ireland. Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said “I firmly believe we can maintain this competitive advantage if we plan for the future now – taking into account evolving global consumer trends, improving our uptake

of innovation and technology in the sector, and delivering more sustainable production systems while building stronger trade relationships with our global partners.”

Overall, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could provide certain challenges for Ireland. Rebecca Lewis, head of operations at the National Farm.

Research Unit said “These results would indicate a lack of post-Brexit confidence within the Irish farming community. Hopefully, this response will encourage a call to action for implementation

of key safeguarding measures within the Irish agricultural sector.”


The Cattle Site. (2017). IFA Demands Urgent
Govt Action Plan as Beef Farmers Lose ¤2M/
Week. Available: http://www.thecattlesite.com/ news/51985/ifa-demands-urgent-govt-action-plan- as-beef-farmers-lose-2m-week/. Last accessed 10th September 2017.

Phelan, S. (2017). ‘51% of agri professionals say Brexit offers some positives. Available: https://www. agriland.ie/farming-news/51-of-agri-professionals- say-brexit-offers-some-positives/. Last accessed 11th September 2017.