The president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has urged the new government to prioritse securing a trade deal with the EU, now it has a mandate to complete Brexit by the end of January.
Ferguson said: “No matter how anyone voted way back in 2016, we need to make sure Brexit is a success for agriculture. That will not be achieved by simply leaving the EU. Success will be measured for agriculture by what is agreed in two key areas. These are the support structures put in place as an alternative to the CAP and the trade relationships we have with the EU-27 and the rest of the world.”
He said securing a trade deal with the EU was a top priority. “We cannot afford further brinkmanship. The prize is too big for politicians to set the pace and we need a deal that maintains unfettered access to our two biggest markets – the rest of the UK and the EU-27. I genuinely believe that in both Brussels and London there is now the necessary goodwill and commitment to get a trade deal in place.”
Ferguson also said he was hopeful that politicians in Northern Ireland would be able to “find the compromise needed to get an executive back in place at Stormont.”
He added: “The coming year will be critical for all sectors of the economy here, particularly agriculture and food, as post-Brexit economic plans become reality. London will base this around devolution, and we will be at a disadvantage to the other UK regions if we do not have the local political input the process demands. We are, rightly, impatient for progress and hopefully we will see it sooner rather than later. Realistically, later may be too late for many businesses relying on politicians to make sure the right decisions are taken for the new world we will be in when we leave the European Union after 47 years.”