Food Strategy Board supports UFU call to action

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The Agri Food Strategy Board (AFSB) has added its voice and support to the UFU’s call for action on the crisis within the agricultural sector.

AFSB chairman, Tony O’Neill, said that the food industry is Northern Ireland’s economic priority and that it now needs the Stormont Executive’s backing and support more than ever to bring its message to Europe.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union is co-ordinating a protest at Stormont this Friday to highlight concerns around the future of the sector ahead of a crunch EU meeting in Brussels on Monday.

“This farming crisis is about much more than low returns for farmers,” Mr O’Neill said; “it drains spending power from the whole community. The drop in milk prices alone equates to £220m less spending power this year, compared with last year, within our economy, rising to virtually double that amount when beef, cereals and vegetables are included.

“We do not expect our Executive to solve the problem but we call on Ministers to remain resolved to take our message to Commissioner Hogan in Brussels. Given Westminster’s unsympathetic stance to seeking greater EU intervention, Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry looks to its devolved administration to show continued commitment to this essential cause,” he added.