Ulster Farmers’ Union president, Barclay Bell, pictured, says the recently announced 2018/19 budget allocation for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is encouraging.
“When the budget outlook was published at the end of last year, we highlighted our concerns regarding the proposed cuts. If these cuts had been implemented, it would have had a serious impact on a number of very significant issues such as our ability to tackle bovine TB and the delivery of environmental programmes. It would have also severely undermined the thinking of the ‘Going for Growth’ strategy, that farming efficiency and productivity drive a successful food industry and potentially create more jobs,” says Mr Bell.
“We are encouraged that in this budget allocation, there has been a reasonably good settlement for DAERA. This will allow the department to continue with its current activities, particularly delivering critical frontline services such as the process for making much needed support payments to farmers. This is significant, given that the agri-food industry faces unique challenges in the short and long term because of the uncertainties surrounding Brexit.”
The UFU say that going forward DAERA must continue to be funded at a level that allows it to deliver key services for farmers and to prepare for Brexit.
“The 2018/19 budget is a stop gap. The real concern is what happens post 2019. Not knowing that the budget will be for 2019 creates a significant amount of uncertainty for farmers in the year ahead. We want to see longer-term budget plans in order to ensure DAERA can support this important industry effectively,” added Mr Bell.