The UFU used a meeting with DEFRA’s Shadow Secretary of State to stress that any solution to Brexit must ensure minimal disruptions to trade north and south, while at the same time, not hamper trade east/west.
Discussions also took place on the availability of labour in the agri food industry post Brexit.
The UFU reiterated that maintaining farm incomes must be a key objective of Northern Ireland’s future agriculture policy as the UK prepares to leave the EU. The UFU repeated that the allocation of the remainder of the UK’s extra convergence funding must recognise the different needs of each region. The UFU emphasized that Government must consider all factors, especially overall budget of each region and payment per business.
Discussions also took place on the UK Agriculture Bill and that the UFU are pleased to see provisions in place that take into consideration the current political situation in Northern Ireland. In particular, it allows for a continued legal basis to ensure, as far as possible, that the status quo in terms of agricultural support can be continued until a new policy direction can be established. Both the UFU and Labour both agreed that what we eat and how our food is produced is vital.
The UK cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to food security. Northern Ireland farmers are world leading in their food production standards, both in terms of animal health and welfare and the environment.
Farmers across Northern Ireland strive daily to produce the high quality, safe, delicious, and affordable food consumers expect to see on supermarket shelves. However, the UK Agriculture Bill barely mentions food production and security.