The announcement that current CAP support levels are guaranteed to 2020 is positive news for agriculture according to UFU president, Barclay Bell.
He said the Treasury guaranteeing direct support and existing agri-environment payments has brought a ‘renewed sense of stability’ in the wake of Brexit.
“We can now plan for the next number of years with the assurance that funding levels will remain fixed. This is a welcome guarantee at a difficult time for all commodities,” said Mr Bell.
Following the Brexit decision the UFU held a series of meetings to discuss future plans for agriculture.
“We stressed the importance of maintaining support for farmers equivalent to that presently provided by the EU. I am pleased we now have an assurance this will be delivered,” said Mr Bell. However he warned that while this is positive news it only guarantees support levels to 2020.
Urging farmers not to become over-optimistic at this announcement the UFU president said that with the knowledge that this CAP package will likely span the length of the UK negotiations to leave the EU the focus now must turn to a follow-on package.
“How this is shaped and implemented will decide the future of agriculture in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Bell. He added that if farmers here are to continue producing food to world leading standards there has to be a ‘clear commitment’ from Westminster that farmers will receive support on a par with current levels after 2020.
“We know that the present CAP package will run the course of the anticipated UK exit from the EU and that the four future rounds of payment to 2020 will be delivered,” said Mr Bell.
He added that the UFU will now seek firm assurances that post-2020 similar support levels are delivered to ensure UK agriculture is not left at a competitive disadvantage.