UFU meets Lord Frost and NI Secretary of State on NI Protocol
On Tuesday the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president alongside other Northern Ireland (NI) business representatives, met with Lord Frost and the Secretary of State for NI Brandon Kenneth Lewis CBE PC, for a roundtable discussion. This was part of the government officials’ ongoing engagement on the NI Protocol.
UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “The meeting with Lord Frost and the Secretary of State for NI gave us the opportunity to raise a lot of concerns however, we didn’t get the answers we needed which is extremely disappointing. At the end of the day, we need solutions not continuous discussions which leave us no further forward.”
Livestock, plant protection products (PPPs) and autumn seed availability were key talking points.
“We raised ongoing livestock issues for both cattle and sheep including sheep stranded in Scotland due to scrapie monitoring issues. On this matter I highlighted the need for a reciprocal derogation to allow immediate trade to continue within the UK.
“The need for show licences was made aware to both government officials. As an interim measure, the UFU would like to see the immediate temporary reinstatement of the show licence, using legislation like those utilized for the easements of soil and used machinery movements. This should include a facility for short-term residency and will allow the return of pedigree livestock to their farm of origin if necessary.
“The NI Protocol has made the regulatory environment for the supply of PPPs much more complex and costly for GB and in particular NI, which we stressed. Increased costs post-Brexit have changed the economics of placing PPPs on the market in GB and NI. The consequence of which will be reduced availability of PPPs for our growers compared to what is on the market in the EU, and over time this will increase.
“The reduced availability of products is likely to be particularly critical for vegetable and horticultural growers as the scale of these markets is smaller. If this happens, it could come to the stage where it may not be possible to grow some crops commercially in future.
“Concerns were also raised in relation to autumn seed availability and the logistics around this,” said the UFU president.