With just over two weeks to go to the EU referendum vote the Ulster Farmers’ Union facilitated a debate of the Remain and Leave arguments for the local farming and food industries.
The speakers were Sir Peter Kendall, a former president of the NFU, for Remain and former DEFRA minister, Owen Paterson for Leave.
UFU president, Barclay Bell, said the aim was to allow the industry to hear both sides of the argument and to have their questions answered, as the campaign enters its final stages.
“Our position has always been that we would not tell our members how they should vote. We believe that in the absence of a compelling reason to leave the EU the status quo is better for agriculture – but the 12,000 farming families we represent will make up their own minds,” said Mr Bell.
He added that people had enjoyed the cut and thrust of a spirited debate, and that in staging it as an open meeting the UFU has met its aim of helping people make an informed decision on a once in a generation vote that will shape the future of agriculture.
“What we can promise is that regardless of the outcome of the vote on June 23 the UFU will continue to work to secure the best possible deal for Northern Ireland’s most important industry,” said Mr Bell.