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Cross-border trade won't be affected by Brexit, says Gove

By Richard Halleron

Cross-border trade in agri-food products will not be affected by whatever final Brexit agreement is struck between London and Brussels, according to the Environment Secretary.

On a surprise visit to the Antrim Show at Shane's Castle Estate on Saturday, Michael Gove said: "A pragmatic approach will be required to reach a final settlement.

"However, the British Government fully recognises the importance of the long established trading arrangements that are a feature of the farming and food sectors on the island of Ireland.

"These must be retained."

In his first major speech last week, Mr Gove said farmers will be paid for delivering environmental benefits after Brexit.

Currently, they receive subsidies from the EU's Common Agricultural Policy for the amount of land that they farm.

The Government has vowed to maintain levels of funding up to 2022, but Mr Gove said ministers could only go on "generously supporting farmers" in the face of other demands on spending if the environmental benefits were clear.

In Antrim, Mr Gove said: "Farmers must be supported to help maintain and improve the environment."

The Environment Secretary met with DUP members on his visit, who told him of the need to protect the family structure of farming here.

Speaking afterwards, South Antrim MP Paul Girvan said: "As a party we also highlighted our views on imports of food products into the UK and the need for a level playing field. It's not acceptable to ask our farmers to meet a raft of requirements and then have to compete with cheaper, lower standard goods."

Sinn Fein MLA Declan Kearney accused Mr Gove of pulling out of a pre-arranged meeting with his party "without prior notice at the very last minute".

A spokeswoman for Mr Gove said the meeting had been cancelled at short notice due to flight delays. She added: "Due to the unexpected cancellation, apologies were made and arrangements are under way to set up a meeting soon."

Antrim Show, Page 18

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