Being good neighbours
Ireland and Northern Ireland have always shared a land border, as well as a long common history. The issue of Brexit means this porous border, which offers free flow of trade from north to south, has to be looked at. Unlike other countries, I doubt the UK will be building a wall anytime soon. But it is of key importance to food and drink producers and suppliers on both sides of the border that the ease of passage is maintained.
Dairy UK also thinks the border issue is a key one. Mike Johnston, Dairy UK’s Northern Ireland director, commented recently in a briefing to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, “Over the last few decades, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have developed common practices to improve efficiency, maximise productivity and add value throughout the dairy supply chain. Through an ‘all-island’ value chain, dairy stakeholders in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland work closely together and rely on the free movement of people, raw materials and finished goods.” Keeping this well-oiled system moving is vital to both parts of the island, and disruption would cost farmers and processors on both sides of the border.
Johnston and Irish processor Lakeland Dairies called for a “joined-up game plan” for the issue of Brexit from the government and industry, in order to continue the collaboration and growth the two countries have had, in order to fulfill both sides’ “tremendous potential to grow.” Uncertainty in this day and age is a given, but there are ways and means of alleviating some of it, and it would behoove the British government to start giving industry and fellow governments that are deeply affected by this move some kind of indication of how things will go post-Brexit. It’s only about being a good neighbour, after all.