I am very concerned about inadequacies in your piece titled (‘Northern Ireland’s dairy industry faces Brexit challenge,’ January 11) as it fails to report some significant remarks by Dr Mike Johnston, the Northern Ireland director of Dairy UK, regarding the relationship between the dairy sector in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (RoI).
By contrast, a Guardian report on the same topic (see the web link https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/11/brexit-barriers-would-ruin-northern-ireland-dairy-farms-mps-told ), focused considerable attention on these remarks, which I have quoted below.
It is important the people in NI are aware of just how closely tied our two dairy sectors are and the extent of the damage that will accrue from a hard Brexit.
I myself have devoted some 20 years to building up a business in the dairy sector.
We are located close to the border in Co Armagh and currently employ 23 people.
Some 80% of our production is exported to RoI.
Despite the falling pound, I have to date obtained no competitive advantage as some 70% of our inputs are imported from RoI.
I am sincerely worried about the disruption that we will face in the coming years.
I have little doubt that if a hard border were to be established, I would have no choice but to relocate my business – lock, stock and barrel – to RoI.
Here are some excerpts from the Guardian report:
‘About a third of milk from cows in Northern Ireland is transported across the border for production into butter, cheese and infant formula, Mike Johnston, the Northern Ireland director for Dairy UK, told the Northern Ireland affairs committee.
“Dairy farmers would have to go out of business as a consequence of their milk not being able to be processed,” he said.
He told the committee more than 25% of the region’s raw milk went south of the border to be processed but a hard Brexit would close down that flow, not just because of tariffs and customs checks, but because of the burden of paperwork relating to issues including traceability, animal welfare and food standards.’
James Boyd, Lurgan