THE North’s dairy sector would be “severely impacted” if proposals contained in the NI Protocol Bill are implemented, a West Tyrone MLA has warned.
Declan McAleer was speaking after a meeting with Dr Mike Johnson, chief executive of the Dairy Council for NI.
Mr McAleer said, “The total value to the economy of the dairy sector is £1.5 billion per annum. This represents a £600 million trade flow with the EU, a £400 million trade flow with Britain and £200 million in trade with the rest of the world.
“All milk produced on the island of Ireland is to the same EU standard, enabling free movement.
“This free movement is essential as a third of all milk produced in the north (around 800 million litres), is transported to the south each year for processing.”
However, Mr McAleer claimed that a “serious threat” to the sector would emerge if the NI Protocol Bill permitted products on farms, such grain from Britain, not produced to EU standard.
The MLA said, “This would remove our access to the EU, our biggest market, with devastating consequences for over 3,000 dairy farm businesses.
“The immediate impact is that 800 million litres of milk will not be collected, but herds will continue to produce it.
“This will rapidly lead to a situation where farmers will be forced to dispose of this milk or find an alternative market as the EU would no longer be open to them.”
Mr McAleer added, “The reality is that the Protocol is essential for the survival of the dairy sector. The British government must not wreck it with the NI Protocol Bill.”
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