Emerging UK Agriculture and Food Policy Post-Brexit and its Potential Implications

IIEA16th July 20192min
In this paper, Con Lucey examines the emerging post-Brexit food and agriculture policy in three areas: direct payments, external trade, and regulation. It also discusses the future viability of the UK food market for Irish exports in the context of a no-deal Brexit.

Author: Con Lucey

The EU and its Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) support and regulate agriculture and food in the European Union. As a member of the EU, the UK’s agricultural policy has been dictated in large part by the CAP for four decades. When the UK leaves the EU it will be leaving the CAP and, very likely, also leaving the Customs Union.

The post-Brexit UK policy on agriculture and food is emerging, although very much in a piecemeal and “not joined up” process. In this paper, Con Lucey examines this emerging policy in three areas: direct payments, external trade, and regulation. Mr Lucey also discusses the future viability of the UK food market for Irish exports in the context of a no-deal Brexit.

Some key findings of this paper are as follows:

  • The broad thrust of the post-Brexit UK agriculture and food policy is emerging. The policy will have major implications for Ireland’s access to, and return from, the UK food market. It will also pose major problems for the current highly integrated agri-food sector on the island of Ireland.
  • The impact of a no-deal Brexit on the UK market is likely to differ by sector, and depend on a wide range of factors including prices in major food exporting countries, but it is probable that food prices in the UK are likely to be lower and more volatile as a result of Brexit. For the Irish beef sector, the potential loss in the UK market would be significant.
  • Northern Ireland’s farming and food industry will be extremely vulnerable in any post-Brexit future, as farmers in the land-based sectors, beef, dairy, lamb and cereals are almost totally dependent on the current levels of direct payments from the EU for their survival.
  • In a no-deal scenario, exports from Northern Ireland to Ireland will face the full EU tariffs, and Ireland will be compelled under EU law to implement all EU import controls.

About the author

Con Lucey was Chief Economist of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) from 1979 to 2008. He was a Council member of the IIEA for many years, and is a member of the IIEA’s UK expert group.

The paper can be accessed here.