The Ulster Farmers’ Union met a number of political representatives this week to update them on a range of issues affecting farmers. This is part of a series of meetings which have been organised by the Union, with separate meetings already held with Lord Duncan of Springbank, the Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the TUV.
UFU president Barclay Bell said: “With less than a year to go until Brexit, farmers and growers across Northern Ireland need to know how the industry will be protected from cheap food imports; what arrangements will be made to maintain existing trade with the EU-27, Ireland and the UK and how the industry will be supported. The government has been hinting that it will do the right things – but farming is a long term industry that has to plan. Not knowing what trade arrangements will be in place or how it will be supported makes that impossible.”
In addition, with the political stalemate at Stormont continuing, decisions on many critical agri-related issues are not being taken and this needs to be addressed. Mr Bell says, “With the absence of a working Government and a Minister to raise the voice of farmers, this is extremely unhelpful moving forward. A way has to be found to ensure that these decisions can be made, particularly at this time of huge change for the industry.”
Other major issues covered included, the future DAERA budget, future Bovine TB controls, Ammonia Emissions and the Farm Business Improvement Scheme, the impact of recent poor weather conditions and Live Animal Exports.
The UFU intends to meet a number of other political parties in the coming week.