AS UK farmers digest the Government's newly revealed contingency plans to govern international trade in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit, the National Sheep Association has highlighted the particular threat to Northern Irish lamb producers from the creation of a new tariff regime at their border with Eire.

NSA's Northern Ireland regional development officer Edward Adamson said: “It cannot be exaggerated enough just how fragile the situation in Northern Ireland is for sheep farmers.

"Our industry is reliant on policy makers in Westminster and in Belfast working hard to ensure protections for us are in place. In the event of a no deal and the application of tariffs as announced yesterday, to allow imported sheepmeat from the South continued access to Northern Ireland tariff free, while applying tariffs to sheepmeat going in the other direction would be enough to destroy sheep farming in Northern Ireland," he warned.

"We are already facing issues with shortages of labour in the abattoirs thanks to Brexit, and with many abattoirs being in the South and the movement of some 400,000 lambs a year going that way, we are likely to find sheep farmers in NI will have no choice but to pay the tariffs when there is nowhere else to send the sheep. This would crush our industry and force many farmers out of business, an outcome which would be totally unacceptable.”