The Ulster Farmers’ Union is calling on politicians to ‘back farming’ as it launches its 2017 general election manifesto. UFU president Barclay Bell said, “Farming matters. It is a cornerstone of our economy, instrumental in managing our countryside, and at the heart of our rural communities. Shoppers want to buy local food that is world-renowned for being safe, affordable and high quality and we want to deliver it.”
The agri-food industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, valued at £108 billion annually and employing 3.9 million people. Bell said: “We are in a time of unprecedented change and it is vital that the government gets behind farmers to ensure a sustainable and profitable future for UK agriculture and the wider agri-food industry.”
The manifesto covers five key policy challenges: Making Brexit a success; investing for growth; safeguarding short, fair, and secure supply chains; placing science at the heart of policy making; and caring for our countryside and rural communities.
“Brexit is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of UK agriculture. We have a vision for a progressive, profitable, productive farming sector and we want to work with the new government to help us realise it. There are further opportunities for our industry and with the right support we believe we can deliver more,” said Bell.
Brexit is just one of the challenges facing farmers. “There are a number of issues that farmers want to see addressed. A fairer supply chain, the eradication of Bovine TB, and rural crime are also covered in the manifesto. These issues must also be addressed in the next parliament,” said the UFU president.