The president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union Ivor Ferguson gave a short talk about the Union’s view on Brexit to students and members of staff during a recent visit to Harper Adams University.
During his speech, Mr Ferguson shared the issues Northern Ireland’s agricultural industry faces, both presently and potentially post-Brexit, but overall he described how there is a lot of optimism among Northern Ireland farmers.
“Immediately following the referendum, we met with our members to come up with a plan. We have 11,000 members and they provided us with a good steer.
“We wanted to inform government thinking, and it worked quite well. Most of our views were included in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)’s paper.”
Issues highlighted included succession planning and payment schemes.
“Our payment scheme stays the same until 2021,” added Mr Ferguson. “The transition to a new payment scheme will be phased in as it’s such a big change.”
When asked during the Q&A session if he believed there will be a deal for Brexit, he said: “Most farmers think that although there might be some humps in the road we will get a deal done.
“There are a number of farmers, especially younger farmers that see big opportunities being available due to Brexit.
“Overall, we do have some concerns but I’d say on the whole we’re optimistic.”
Mr Ferguson is also a Harper alumnus and shared with the audience when he was at Harper Adams they were debating joining the EU.
Commenting on the recent visit, Harper Adams vice-chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn, said: “We were delighted to be able to welcome Ivor Ferguson to the university, to provide us with the opportunity to learn about Brexit planning in Northern Ireland at a critical point in the negotiations, but also for him to be able to meet some of our students from that part of the UK.
“We greatly value our links with Northern Ireland and were pleased to be able to hear more about the important work in agriculture being undertaken by the Ulster Farmers’ Union.”