A survey carried out among members of the Agricultural Science Association (ASA) has revealed that more than half (51 per cent) of professionals working with the agri-food industry believe that Brexit could offer a positive opportunity for Ireland.
This figure marks a significant increase in positive sentiment, up 23 percentage points from 28 per cent in 2016, the ASA said. The findings were released in advance of the annual ASA conference, which takes place in the Killashee House Hotel in Naas, Co Kildare, today (September 8).
Speaking in advance of his opening address at the conference, Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "The annual ASA conference is a welcome opportunity for agri-food operators to take stock of their current and future requirements to compete in an ever-changing global environment. Europe is the world's leading agri-food trading bloc thanks to our enduring commitment to quality, standards and innovation. I firmly believe we can maintain this competitive advantage if we plan for the future now – taking into account evolving global consumer trends, improving our uptake of innovation and technology in the sector, delivering more sustainable production systems while building stronger trade relationships with our global partners."
ASA member survey
The ASA survey was completed by members of the professional body in July 2017. Of the 51% of members who believe that Brexit could offer a positive opportunity for the Irish agri-food industry, the following were the main reasons given:
- Brexit will reduce our dependence on the UK and encourage new market opportunities (37 per cent);
- Brexit will mean that Ireland is the only English speaking country in the EU which presents us with an advantage (16 per cent);
- Ireland’s unique relationship with the UK will give us an advantage over other EU countries (13 per cent); and
- Brexit will increase the need for innovation within the industry (12 per cent).
Other speakers at the ASA conference include Ambassador Darci Vetter, former chief agricultural negotiator for the US Trade Representative under the Obama administration; Professor Nicola Shadbolt, director of Fonterra Cooperative; Jeroen Elfers, director of corporate affairs, Friesland Campina; and Aidan O’Driscoll, secretary general at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.