UFU president, Ivor Ferguson says he is hopeful the government’s white paper Brexit plans could work for farmers in Northern Ireland. He said it contained the tools to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, while avoiding additional controls on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The comments were made following Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to Northern Ireland where she addressed representatives of the agriculture and business communities. Ferguson said he believed her comments offered some reassurance to the farming industry.
“March 2019 is fast approaching and many farmers are feeling uncertain about the future. The white paper provides more detail about the UK government’s vision for a future relationship between the UK and EU. The suggestions such as a common rulebook for standards and arrangements for collecting tariffs, if agreed, would help to prevent a hard border. It is crucial for food and farming here that free and frictionless trade continues across the border. This trade existed long before the UK or the Republic of Ireland joined the EEC and it is essential it is maintained.”
The EU had yet to officially react to the proposals and Ferguson says farmers are watching closely. “We are under no illusion that reaching an agreement on the border will be simple. From the outset we have stressed that any solution must ensure minimal disruption to trade north and south. At the same time it must not hamper trade east/west, since GB is our biggest market. We believe the government’s white paper contains the tools that could deliver this outcome.”