Courtesy of the confidence and supply agreement reached earlier this week between the DUP and Conservatives, both parties recognise the importance of the agriculture sector to Northern Ireland and the opportunities for growth that exist.
The policy paper, which forms the basis of the overarching financial agreement arrived at between the two parties, also confirms that agriculture will be a critical policy area during the EU exit negotiations.
Specifically, where agriculture is concerned both parties agree to continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of the current Parliament. Further discussions will take place on the future framework for farming support.
In terms of additional financial support, rural areas will benefit from the commitment by the UK government to contribute £75 million per year for two years to help provide ultra-fast broadband for Northern Ireland.
The UK government will work to utilise its networks of Embassies and High Commissions so as to ensure that Northern Ireland plays a full role in all initiatives to boost exports. This should have a direct bearing on allowing local food processors to access new markets, including China, with a range of products.
Commenting on the announced Tory-DUP deal, UFU president Barclay Bell said: “Farmers will be encouraged by the government commitment to provide the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of Parliament and that Northern Ireland’s agri-industry has been highlighted as a critical policy area for the EU exit negotiations.
“The additional financial support for Northern Ireland as a result of the Tory-DUP deal is also welcome news, in particular, the commitment to improving broadband which will be of significant benefit to rural communities.
“We are awaiting the release of more detail to get a better idea of what exactly the deal means for farmers here in Northern Ireland. However, it is important that we have a functioning NI Executive and Assembly at Stormont to help deliver the deal.”