Potential destruction of the NI agri-food industry by climate legislation

Ulster Unionist spokesperson on Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs Rosemary Barton MLA has said that the recent KPMG report on the Climate Change Bill impact assessment highlights the potential devastation to the agri-food industry, which should be a warning to everyone in our community, not just the farming sector.

Mrs Barton said: “Stark assessments from the KPMG report such as herd numbers would fall by up to 86% and a total aggregate ‘lost’ economic output in the PMB scenario would be ~£11.1bn, bring some reality to the massive damage this could bring to our economy but also to food security.

“The report outlines the significant number of job losses as well as the extremely negative impact on the economy. It also notes that in the PMB scenario demand for meat and other proteins would be met by international imports. These may flow from countries with less efficient means of livestock production.

“The standards of food production in Northern Ireland are excellent, the last thing we want to do is to import goods from elsewhere, particularly those with lower safety and welfare standards. The government must not allow food importation from countries that are not meeting the same production standards as there is in the UK. With considerable reduction in local food production that these proposals would result with, a significant increase in food imports is predictable.

“The carbon footprint in the UK is one of the lowest in the world, with increased imports from other countries this would significantly increase this carbon footprint, resulting in a very negative impact on climate change.

“This Climate Change Bill is to implement a Northern Ireland net-zero carbon position by the year 2045. While this is a very commendable aspiration, there is no point attempting to achieve such targets while in the process devastating our agricultural industry, seriously damaging our economy, importing products of lesser quality and aggravating the wider climate change problems.”