Irish Agriculture and Food Counsellor Dale Crammond, has returned to Ireland after a four-year term in Washington DC, writes John Wilkes.
Though Ireland respects the UK’s decision to leave the EU, collateral damage for British and Irish agriculture cannot be overstated should the UK crash out with a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
According to Mr Crammond, the Irish beef sector will be hardest hit, much like UK beef and sheep production.
Irish producers already experiencing a significant downturn in cattle price will see their UK market access come under severe pressure.
He has less concern for Irish lamb, however.
He said: “Irish lamb will be diverted to France to replace UK exports squeezed out of the market by a no-deal.”
Mr Crammond highlighted the importance of American farmers’ support for President Trump.
He said: “Previously, US farmers in Republican ‘red’ states in rural America felt ignored. Consequently, they have been loyal to the President.”
With the impact from tariffs, he believes, ‘farmers are the people who helped elect Mr Trump, but they are hurting’.
The long-term consequence of these tariffs and loss of market share for US agriculture was unknown.
“If trade wars were resolved by morning, how quickly would US producers regain market share, particularly that lost to South America and European member states? These countries have replaced US product in the Chinese market,” Mr Crammond added.
He said talks about wider EU/US trade had stalled due to the US demand for the inclusion of agriculture.
The EU feels it best to first negotiate a quick agreement solely on industrial products worth $30 billion (£24.8bn) to both sides.
Mr Crammond said: “Why include agriculture when it will take four to five years to negotiate an agreement? Let us build trust between EU and US agriculture following the example of the non-hormone beef deal. We just feel this is a better way to get things done.”
He spoke about the US/UK trade agreement and issues surrounding the Irish border.
Strong historical ties between Ireland and the US prompted recent comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and chairman of the influential Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal.
Both stated clear objection to any threat to the Good Friday Agreement.
Crammond concluded: “Congressional disapproval would make it difficult for a US-UK trade agreement to get through the House. This message is resonating now in the UK, US and at home in Ireland.
"The Trump administration’s position is for the UK and European Commission to resolve issues on their own.”