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Northern Ireland beef farmer: 'Let's make most of opportunities this will offer us'

By Brian Turtle, beef farmer, Ballymena

Published 25/10/2016

Brian Turtle
Brian Turtle

Whilst our farm hasn't felt any significant impact from Brexit yet, there are many challenges lying ahead. In the meantime, we can enjoy some of the short term gains and look to the potential opportunities leaving the EU might present.

While future trade is an obvious worry, the Brexit result so far seems to have helped stabilise the price of beef and red meat to the rest of the UK and Western Europe. One bonus of working in the agri-food sector is that you see first-hand how innovative our businesses are. With so many forward-thinking companies, I'm hopeful that Northern Ireland will be in a good position when it comes to the new trade agreements.

Working with a range of companies in the sector gives you exposure to how other businesses are feeling about Brexit and a major key concern is the cost of raw materials as exchange rates fluctuate. On the flip side, this could help re-energise our indigenous raw material market as farmers look to source more locally, which hopefully would be a real benefit to the arable sector.

With Single Farm Payments in NI significantly higher than elsewhere, many are anxiously waiting to find out what may replace it. Personally I think with the right preparation, guidance and support, a good option could be to adopt a model similar to New Zealand which works without subsidy. It's a challenging time, but the agri-sector here is resilient. By examining the opportunities, we can hopefully work closely together with processors and retailers to chart the best course of action and overcome these challenges."

Belfast Telegraph

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