Report highlights farmers’ contribution

Barclay Bell
Barclay Bell

The Ulster Farmers’ Union president Barclay Bell has praised a report from Development Economics, commissioned by the NFU, that shows farmers spend in Northern Ireland is providing a £486 million boost to the economy, this clearly demonstrates the vital role of farm businesses.

“This is the first time the total contribution of agriculture overall to the UK and regional economies and society has been calculated. Clearly, the contribution of farmers to the economy should not be over looked and this report backs our calls that agriculture needs to be a priority as preparations get underway for leaving the EU,” said Mr Bell (pictured).

Calculations for the UK as a whole show that the monetary value of primary food production, environmental services and tourism, in 2015, is estimated to be £46,496 billion meaning that for every £1 invested in farm support in the UK, farming delivers £7.40 back to the economy. The report also recognised that agriculture makes significantly above-average contributions to the economy in Northern Ireland.

“These figures prove that money invested in farming by the government delivers significant return for the Northern Ireland economy and the wider UK economy. Farmers and their families are at the heart of the rural community and are clearly economic drivers spending £486 million on goods and services in 2015.

“The report shows that investing in farming in Northern Ireland and the UK makes sense and that there are clear economic, environmental, social, and cultural benefits for society as a whole. Ultimately it means affordable, traceable, high quality food for consumers and ensures that we have security when it comes to feeding the people in the UK. As the UK’s food self-sufficiency continues to decline, increasing our reliance on food imports is an extremely dangerous game and we would warn UK government against using agriculture as a bargaining chip when it comes to future trade negotiations post Brexit,” said the UFU president.