Brexit weighs heavy at Irish farming fair

Nearly 300,000 people visited the 2017 National Ploughing Championships outside Tullamore in the central County Offaly.

Brexit weighs heavy at Irish farming fair

World Bulletin / News Desk

Brexit hung like a cloud over Ireland's biggest agricultural fair this week, with the country's food and farming industries, heavily reliant on their British neighbour, feeling the impact already.

Their boots quickly churning up the muddy fields, visitors were keen to trade talk of farm machinery and production volumes.

The annual gathering was also an occasion for families to see the animals, play the Irish sport of hurling and soak up the festive atmosphere.

However, for the exhibitors, the atmosphere is somewhat weighed down by Britain's looming departure from the European Union and the slide of its sterling currency, which has made Irish exports over its only border exceedingly expensive.

John Keena, a cattle breeder, wears a stern face when talking about the 20 percent fall in sterling against the euro, since Britain's vote in June 2016 to leave the EU.

"Meat factories maybe are taking full advantage of Brexit, like they have dropped the prices in the last six weeks by something like 30 cents the kilo. We think it's unjustified and that we should be back at four euros the kilo," he said.

Economic ties between Britain and Ireland -- which was part of the UK before independence in the 1920s -- are particularly strong. The Irish pound, replaced by the euro in 2002, was linked to sterling until the late 1970s.

Last Mod: 23 Eylül 2017, 13:12
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