Brexit puts spring in step of Irish daffodil farmers

Many people curse Brexit as a disaster, but for Co Meath daffodil farmer Darragh McCullough it has led to blossoming profits. Britain’s difficulty has become Ireland’s opportunity, as new UK borders preventing migrant flower pickers from entering Britain plays into Irish daffodil growers’ hands.

“Brexit has been good to us because Brexit has made it very difficult for UK businesses to get seasonal labor,” says McCullough, a horticulturist and agricultural journalist based in Gormanston. “The UK has tightened up its whole immigration regime, and daffodil-picking is like apple-picking or strawberry-picking; it is entirely dependent on seasonal labor.”

Britain is the source of 80 percent of the world’s daffodils every year, and growing is concentrated in Cornwall, southwest England. Prices can rise when even a small part of a Cornish daffodil farm’s crop is affected, allowing Irish daffodil exporters such as McCullough to benefit from an almost doubling of prices. The price paid to the grower/supplier for a bunch of 10 daffodil stems has risen from 25 cents to close to 50 cents on average.

“When one of the British operators find they cannot get 20 percent of their crop picked, that leaves a major shortage. In effect, daffodils are a commodity like grain or beef: when there is 1 or 2 percent shortage, prices go bananas,” says McCullough.

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