Speaking after his latest visit to Brussels, Ulster Farmers’ Union dairy committee Brussels representative, William Irvine, says he is positive that the strong relationships built with European colleagues over the years will continue post-Brexit.
Mr Irvine said that it is still very much business as usual. “I attended the COPA working party on milk and dairy products where we had a thorough debate on exchange-based risk management in our sector, an approach which could be adopted in the UK and specifically in Northern Ireland since we continued to face such high levels of milk price volatility,” he said.
Mr Irvine has been a presence in Brussels for over three years now and has established a number of influential contacts.
During his latest trip he met with German and Dutch counterparts Ludwig Börger DBV and Wilco Brouwer De Koning, and with Willemien van de Kandelaar from LTO. He also met Tom Phelan and Catherine Lascurettes from the IFA and Lise Høyer from the Danish Dairy Council.
“These meetings were an opportunity to discuss key issues with our EU counterparts that are topical for Northern Ireland and are areas which the UFU has been working on extensively - milk contracts, constituent pricing, farm quality assurance, and farmgate milk prices. We were alarmed to hear that there is a widening gap between the farmgate milk price being paid in Northern Ireland and that in the EU,” said Mr Irvine.
He added: “The UFU has a well-established voice within EU dairy circles. As we wait for more certainty around what our relationship with the EU post-Brexit will look like, we will continue to lobby on key issues affecting members.”