Britain leaving the European Union.



Who’s worried about the hard border- either the UK fixes it- or it doesn’t get a deal- there is no need to worry as such.
As for the reason why, have you read the GFA and the UK’s obligations under it? Especially the “flowery” bits? You understand what “hard border” means? To give a small taste, read the following thread:

Anything other than the backstop is a massive interference with the cross border economy and fundamentally breaches the accord made with the (horribly mistreated) Catholic population in Northern Ireland - as well as with the citizens of Ireland for which we changed our Constitution and forfeited our constitutional claim to NI.


Actually, for most businesses, it’s the other way round.

As a rule of thumb, you’ll find that tariff levels are inversely proportional to the added value of the products. They’re high for agricultural products, minerals, commodity steel and construction products and the like and they’re low for highly engineered products with high added value built into them. There are some exceptions, such as in the motor industry, where they’re medium-high outside negotiated bilateral deals and FTAs. Of course, when people like the Orange Loon in the White House start trade wars for fun, anything goes, but generally, high tariffs go with low knowledge input.

I work for a business that exports worldwide in what you might call “high tech” (but not IT) products, produced indigenously, by a native company and while the difference in ease of doing business within and without the EU (and particularly in developing markets, where I use the word “developing” in a liberal sense) is like night and day, trust me, the problem isn’t the tariffs, it’s the bureaucracy and compliance. Tariff rates are in the region of 1.5% to 7%. They’re usually less significant than currency fluctuations.

Adding €1K to a €50K price is nothing, compared with adding a skilled person-week’s labour costs and lost work opportunity cost, €500 in permits, stamps and signatures and a fortnight’s, or a month’s delay to getting the consignment ordered, loaded, shipped, processed, delivered and accepted.

Tariffs can and quite likely will put some farmers out of business. For the other 95% of the economy, they’re either completely irrelevant for businesses whose inputs and activity are entirely local, or else a minor inconvenience for importers and exporters, compared with the administrative burden.

They’ll be a big problem for a small part of the Irish economy. In the UK, they’ll be a similarly big problem for an even smaller part, but there, admin, compliance and refusal to recognise standards, even when they’re effectively identical will be a headache of monumental and often probably terminal proportions.


going to call BS on that one!

I’ve never heard of milk being sent up just to be pasturised

liquid milk is a very small fraction of the market; there’s’ no need to bring milk up from Kildare for it


if you (US/Canada) could already export to the UK at 0% tarrif why would you open your own market to them? It’s not that hard


Based on what?

An excerpt from an ESRI report on this exact topic:

Milk tankers cross the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland about 33,000 times a year. Northern Ireland produces around 2.2 billion litres of milk a year, of which some 30% is processed in the Republic. Milk and dairy products move in both directions, sometimes several times: cream from Northern milk is removed in Virginia, Co.Cavan, Ireland and sent back to the Baileys Irish Cream plant in Mallusk, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Under the law everyone of those 33k journeys will require paper work checks and taxes to be paid.

For a farm in Kildare it is as easy to transfer it to Stratroy in Omagh as it is to move it to Tipperary Glanbia for processing.


Isn’t there a number of processing facilities in cavan monaghan. I think it is a case of milk coming south for processing.


as you pointed out 30% on NI milk is processed in the Republic


that would involve driving right past the Virginia plant on the N3 as well as Lakelands; as well as ignoring the massive Glanbia plant in Ballyragett (north Kilkenny)

Liquid milk you buy in the supermarket is a fraction of the overall market - it’s low profit too.

A lot of raw milk is exported south for processing; it makes no sense to bring milk up for putting in Tetrapak when you’re exporting 30% of the North’s raw milk.

Milk tankers cross the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland about 33,000 times a year. Northern Ireland produces around 2.2 billion litres of milk a year, of which some 30% is processed in the Republic. Milk and dairy products move in both directions, sometimes several times: cream from Northern milk is removed in Virginia, Co.Cavan, Ireland and sent back to the Baileys Irish Cream plant in Mallusk, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.

yes that’s processed value-added ingredients

except the report implies the Bailey’s plant is in the North - that’s the newer secondary; plant; the main one is on the Nangor Road in Dublin.

It’s not “cream” in the tankers either - it’s basically Baileys without the alcohol


I’d read some time ago that the biggest processing plant was in Derry. I can’t find the source for that at this time. I could be wrong.

The only hard numbers that I can get hold of say that there are hundreds of tankers a day of milk crossing the border each and every day. There is raw milk going one way; processed milk the other way; cream going back again; powered baby milk going back yet again. It is a massively integrated supply chain. No matter what way you look at it that is an awful lot of milk, in one form or another, going back and forth across the border.

How this sub discussion started is that under the law, those crossings of the border become illegal. No one doubts this. The point originally being made was that there isn’t really any other option than turning a blind eye to it in the short term. If the law is enforced there will be shortages of milk products of one form or another.


Sorry this really is BS. Even writing this shows a massive lack of understanding of agribusiness. The pasteurization process just involves heating and cooling milk in a certain sequence. Why on earth would milk from Cork be shipped to Derry just to be heated and cooled and then returned?

Every producer of liquid milk has its own plants for pasteurisation and packaging its products.

Milk is mainly processed into liquid milk, cream, butter, cheese, milk powder and some other by products. There are large dairy coops such as Lakeland Dairies who own plants on both sides of the border and transport milk around depending on whether they want to make butter, cheese or whatever and where the demand is from day to day at its plants. And milk is traded between co-ops etc.


What you are saying is totally Dublin centric and ignores the massive reality that outside Dublin the farming industry and associated industries such as food processing, haulage and the farm building construction and machinery industry still account for more than 50% of the employment in probably up to 16 of the 26 counties in ROI!! Its probably only Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Meath and probably Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Galway, Louth and maybe Westmeath where this isn’t the case.

I believe that there are approx 250k people working directly in farming out of the population of approx 2 million. That’s more than 5 % of the workforce and as I pointed out its the biggest single industry in at least 16 counties in the ROI. And that’s before allied industries such as food processing. If tariffs on agricultural products are introduced these are usually in the range of 50% plus. And for beef producers there is no margin to absorb any further price cuts. We are not talking about high tech products where there are high margins to absorb relatively low tariffs so comparing the effects of tariffs in these different sectors is pointless and misses the potential impact completely.

If even 100k of these 250k farmers lose their markets and livelihoods overnight then do you not forsee a major problem in 16 Irish counties? Ok, maybe not in Dalkey or Malahide so it will be invisible to you. Farming is in relative decline for years but a sudden step change such as this will bring people out on the streets. And put the government out of office at the next election which they should be well aware of.


The ESRI reports say that on the order of a million liters of milk a day are crossing the border each and every day. Do you have differing numbers?

This is something we agree on. From a border perspective, the companies and co-ops see the border the same way they see the border between Meath and Kildare - something that is totally irrelevant. They shift things around on a day to day basis between sites be they in the same country or not.

A plain text reading of the law makes this illegal in a couple months time. Each crossing of the border requires paperwork and taxes to be paid.


You call it working. I call it picking up the check as near all beef farms are under water. Brexit will effect them but beef farming is numbered. Dairy will be effected but I expect intervention if prices drop below xx cent per litre


What is the problem of doing paperwork and taxes? We already coexist with the UK already having a different customs setup for areas such as VAT and the paperwork and accounting required for different currencies. I am sure that it is not beyond the scope of human ingenuity to introduce a system for the major players in the milk industry to allow them to legally transport milk over and back across the border as required? Remember that these coops such as Glanbia and Lakelands are all now billion euro + businesses. There is no reason that they couldn’t track and declare their cross border shipments in the same way that companies already self declare for VAT & VIES when buying or selling stuff internally or cross borders.

The declaration of goods being bought and sold cross border in this way would be an annoying extra paperwork issue but would not be the stone cold trade killing issue that you would get if you had to pay 50% tariffs to sell your milk or beef across the border. And the border is also Dublin, Rosslare and other ports, not just the NI border so these co-ops will need a similar tracking and declaration system anyway to deal with exports to the UK mainland.


The details become complex, but the general principle is as follows:
Irish law requires that food standards, health and safety regulations be signed off on by an Official/Vet with EU licenses and qualifications. In nine weeks time their licenses expire. There is no one available in Northern Ireland available to sign off that the facility that was used to process the milk was up to spec. There is no one available to sign the paperwork. There is no legal agreement to cross recognize health and safety standards between the UK and the EU in future. The facility is the same, the people are the same, but all their licenses etc are void.

At present we coexist with the UK because all officials in the UK at present have their licenses under the EU umbrella. If it is legal in the UK, it is legal in IE and the greater EU, and vise-versa. This is the fundamental principle of the common market. Once brexit happens this is no longer the case. What is legal in the UK is no longer legal in the EU.

The standards in the UK and EU might be identical, but they are legally different. Once may say this is splitting of hairs. It is not.

There is an unfortunate lady working in my office in centre of Dublin as a cleaner. She moved from eastern Europe where she was a math teacher. She can’t get a job as a teacher in Ireland because the Irish education system doesn’t recognize her qualifications. The qualifications that she has and the qualifications that Irish teachers have are essentially identical, but they are legally totally different. There is no cross-recognition of the standards.

Importing milk becomes illegal because it is no longer done in a facility that is certified by a licensed individual to be up to Irish law.


Its probably worth noting at this point that an attitude on the part of the political and media centre that ignored the world beyond itself, is precisely what caused Brexit (and Trump) in the first place.


I am sure that it is possible to award NI vets and other officials accreditation status. And in return the UK authorises our vets and officials to inspect milk or beef moving North or to the UK mainland. Another possibility is that a vet or other official is stationed at each major processing facility north and south to inspect milk on arrival. Vets are already stationed in all our meat factories to check carcasses. If we don’t allow these mechanisms then we totally disrupt a major industry and would be playing silly buggers with thousands of livelihoods here. I suggest that we get moving on whatever regulations change or legislation is required pronto.

At present a range of agricultural products are already allowed into the EU from third countries, for instance quotas of New Zealand lamb etc. Someone is authorised to inspect these so I can’t see why officials can’t be authorised to inspect milk moving over the border. And at source at the sending plants or on arrival at the processors so without creating special infrastructure for this activity alone.


Yup. It could totally disrupt many many different industries. It could be just bad or catastrophic depending on how strictly people intrepid the change in law. Agriculture is probably the hardest hit. Of course all this can be avoided. It requires a legal agreement with the EU for cross border recognition of standards and a way to ensure that the standards remain compatible. And also a dispute resolution mechanism. This agreement gets written into EU and UK law. The problem is that the British government doesn’t want such an agreement. We don’t want the EU writing laws for us. Or “No Deal” in the language of Brexit.

If such a scenario plays out, the only mitigating action available is to turn a blind eye to much of it in the short term. How long can such a blind eye remain, who knows? I’m guessing only a matter of weeks.



Big day in Westminster Circus