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Brexit: Farmers told not to panic over loss of £260m in EU subsidies

By Chris McCullough

Published 25/06/2016

Leave votes mount up
Leave votes mount up

Farmers in Northern Ireland have been told not to panic as they wonder how to replace the current £260m they receive in subsidies from Brussels.

It is now up to the UK government to sit down and draw up a plan to support its main industries, including agriculture.

During the entire referendum the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) sat on the fence and did not wish to influence farmers' decisions on which way to vote.

But since the historic vote was announced the UFU has told farmers not to panic as CAP support will be around until 2019.

Dairy farmer Charlie Weir said Europe had worked well for farmers in the past but had more recently lost its way.

"It's way too early to know if the vote to leave will be any good for farmers. It all depends on who the government is in England and whether they will be a friend to farming or not," he said.

"Europe used to work well economically but became too political and lost its way."

Garth Cairns, managing director of SlurryKat Ltd, an agri-machinery manufacturer based in Waringstown, welcomed the Brexit vote.

Mr Cairns said: "This decision to leave the UK can only be good for companies like mine who export to countries in Europe and beyond.

"With the fluctuations in the currency it will further boost our competitiveness in euro-based markets.

"For too long Brussels dictated the trade deals the UK must abide by and now that is over I personally feel we will be freer to dictate our own terms."

NI Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen said her top priority was "to ensure our agri-food industry, rural communities and environment stakeholders make the best of this new opportunity".

She pointed out any changes will not take effect until after the UK has negotiated a withdrawal deal with the EU - which will take years - and that EU support will remain in place during that time.

The UFU said it fully understands the referendum was contentious for farmers.

UFU president Barclay Bell said: "From the outset our position was that we would not tell our members how they should vote. We don't want farmers to panic.

"CAP support is guaranteed to 2019. We will immediately enter into discussions on future support arrangements, funded by the UK Treasury, and also on the continuation of trade with Europe."

How the referendum drama unfolded

These are the key moments since the EU referendum polls closed:

Polling stations across the country close at the end of a day on which a record 46.5 million people were eligible to have their say. Ballot boxes are sent to 382 counting centres nationwide.

Both the BBC and ITV call a Leave victory based on analysis of the votes cast so far.

The Leave campaign officially passes the estimated winning post of 16,763,272. The final count shows Leave won 51.9% of the total vote to Remain's 48.1%.David Cameron announces his intention to resign in a speech outside Downing Street. Flanked by wife Samantha, Mr Cameron said he had informed the Queen of his decision to remain in place for the short-term, but hand over to a new prime minister by the time of the Conservative annual conference in October.

Boris Johnson holds a press conference at Vote Leave HQ in London and pays tribute to Mr Cameron. He describes the PM as "one of the most extraordinary politicians of our age". He adds: "I believe the British people have spoken up for democracy in Britain and across Europe and I think we can be very proud of the result."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the Scottish Government will begin to prepare legislation required to enable a second independence vote to take place.

Senior Labour backbencher Dame Margaret Hodge tables a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as leader. She submitted her motion to Parliamentary Labour Party chairman John Cryer.

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