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Northern Ireland Farmers won’t ‘lie down’ over Brexit vote

By Rachel Martin

Published 03/08/2016

Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell
Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell

Trade and investment in agriculture have been identified as post-Brexit vote priorities for Northern Ireland farmers, it has been claimed.

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president Barclay Bell said he was confident trade would continue with Europe, but added that the UFU would not ‘wave a white flag’ in trade negotiations.

“Currently the UK is 60% self-sufficient in food, so 40% of our food has to be imported,” he told the BBC. “The Danes will want to continue to get their bacon on our supermarket shelves, Ireland will want to continue to get their beef and dairy products into our markets.

“When you look at the single market, the tariffs around it are actually pretty low, about 3% for manufactured goods, less than the exchange rate fluctuations that businesses are dealing with over the border. But food and farming are very, very different.

“The tariffs are set up around Europe deliberately to be protectionist, it is even worse for Ireland north and south because the tariffs are higher again in things we specialise in.”

The UFU didn’t take an official stance on Brexit but Mr Bell previously told the Belfast Telegraph that Northern Ireland had “too much to lose” by voting to leave.

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