Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Tom Elliott has backed recent discussions by the UK Dairy industry to fully exploit dairy trade opportunities across the globe.
Mr Elliott attended a briefing by Dairy UK in Westminster, and after the meeting noted: “I am fully supportive of the UK Dairy industry’s plans and aspirations to fully exploit trade opportunities and strengthen its position as a leading global dairy player.
“In the briefing I and other MPs received, it was clear to me that the dairy industry were adamant to make the most out of the Brexit negotiations. With food and drink an integral part of the market and economy, it is crucial that the right steps are taken by the Government to ensure the dairy industry makes a success of Brexit.
“The dairy industry has outlined a clear path to global success and it hinges on a number of key aspects. Maintaining access to the EU market, protecting existing trade agreements, developing Free Trade Agreements, which will be key, avoiding border issues on the island of Ireland, particularly pertinent to farmers in Northern Ireland and working closer with DEFRA. These are the five key points as outlined by Dairy UK, and the UK Government need to take stock of these points.
“In a detailed briefing document produced by Dairy UK, the dairy industry has outlined its clear position and a strategy to get there. With the vote to Leave the European Union, there have been a number of unknowns, and it is vital that industry leading companies set out their stall to the Government, for what they want and need for their industry. The uncertainty of the upcoming negotiations, the UK Dairy Industry has ensured that it is prepared.
Mr Elliott added: “We are all too aware in Northern Ireland of the impact of low milk prices has had on our farmers, that is why we need a clear strategy and vision to ensure that our farmers, receive the best price that is possible. That means the United Kingdom as a whole becoming a leading dairy player across the globe. I am particularly concerned that the soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains, to ensure the dairy industry in Northern Ireland has the strongest hand available post Brexit.
“The matter of the current poor farmgate prices for milk was a major issue of conversation at the briefing – it is vital that a sustainable milk price is paid to farmers, otherwise many will not remain in business.”