Northern Ireland’s poultry producers are suffering from the current political stalemate and Brexit paralysis, the president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has claimed.
Speaking at the UFU’s annual dinner, Ivor Ferguson expressed his disappointment that farmers were the latest victims of political indecision. “We have heard the excuses but it is time Northern Ireland had a functioning devolved government again,” he said. “Farming and food play a large part in the Northern Ireland economy and civil servants are making their own rules to the detriment of the farming industry. Poultry farmers are only the latest ones to suffer at the hands of an overzealous department.”
Ferguson also expressed his concern that some MPs in Westminster – most notably staunch Brexiteers – were pushing to open the UK market to “cheaper, lower standard food imports.” “UK food prices are the third lowest in the world, and yet consumers enjoy some of the highest environmental and animal welfare standards,” he said. “Opening up our home market to cheaper imports would have serious consequences for farmers and their businesses in Northern Ireland. Retailers have faith in the food we produce and more importantly, so do consumers. Our politicians would do well to follow their lead.”
Meanwhile during the evening a number of awards were given out, including the Mary Wilson Trophy for the best overall UFU group performance, which was handed to the South West Down Group, and the Cuthbert Trophy for retaining the highest percentage of members in 2018, which was collected by the West Antrim Group.
The Belfast Telegraph Cup for outstanding agricultural achievement went to farmer Thomas Gilpin of Gilfresh Produce.