The leader of the Northern Ireland Dairy Council has insisted the protocol works for his sector.
r Mike Johnston made the comments on RTE radio as the Taoiseach Micheal Martin accused the UK government of acting in bad faith over the protocol.
Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Mr Martin said any attempt to unilaterally alter the deal would be “deeply damaging” and “marked an all-time low”.
When asked how the on-site precautions were working, Dr. Johnston: “Quite simply, the protocol works.”
“We have made this point on numerous occasions and made it very clear to both the UK Government and the EU,” he said.
“It allows our trade flows to continue. is it perfect no Are there things that could be improved? Yes.
“But it’s working and our clear message was: ‘Don’t do anything that in any way interferes with the current work.’
“Let’s take what we have and see if we can improve on it, but it’s working for us.”
He added that after hearing the “rhetoric” from both the UK and the EU, it was clear that both sides wanted to protect the Good Friday Agreement.
“Well you won’t get a better example than the Iceland or Ireland Dairy value chain”.
Explaining the journey taken by milk produced in Northern Ireland, he said about a third (800 million litres) goes to processors in the Irish Republic.
This includes processing into finished or intermediate products which could be sent back to Northern Ireland for final processing.
“It is the availability of the protocol that allows the flow of raw milk to continue.”
He said the reality was that Northern Ireland simply lacked the processing capacity to meet that demand.
“If we couldn’t continue these trade flows we would be in serious trouble, you can imagine the impact on the environment and animal health.”
Having “unrestricted access” to the EU and UK markets is a major advantage, he said.
In the event that the EU makes changes to the food standards, milk producers in Northern Ireland would have to comply with these, as well as the UK’s divergent standards.
dr Johnston said any milk produced in Northern Ireland must currently meet EU standards, allowing it to move freely across the border.
This could be affected if, for example, cereals are imported into Northern Ireland that do not meet EU standards.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/farming-news/northern-ireland-dairy-council-chief-insists-protocol-is-working-41739307.html Northern Ireland Dairy Council chief insists the protocol is working