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Balmoral Show: Ready your business for reality of Brexit, union urges farmers



Ulster Farmers' Union president Barclay Bell

Ulster Farmers' Union president Barclay Bell

Ulster Farmers' Union president Barclay Bell

Farmers must Brexit-proof their businesses, Ulster Farmers' Union president Barclay Bell said on day one of this year's Balmoral Show.

"We don't know yet how the final Brexit deal will work out. But it will present challenges, as well as opportunities," he said.

"Our primary objective is to secure the equivalent level of funding for agriculture moving forward, as is currently the case.

"Subsequent to this being achieved, we can discuss the way by which the support funding can be distributed."

But the UFU president did say that Whitehall will push for changes in the funding models to be implemented for agriculture in the UK beyond 2020.

"And this is why it is so important for farmers to ensure that they can tweak their business model in order to cope with all eventualities," he added.

With the general election in mind, he also called on politicians to back the sector. "Farming matters. It is a cornerstone of our economy, instrumental in managing our countryside, and at the heart of our rural communities.

"Shoppers want to buy local food that is world-renowned for being safe, affordable and high quality, and we want to deliver it." The UFU has issued its election manifesto. It covers five key policy challenges: making Brexit a success; investing for growth; safeguarding short, fair, and secure supply chains; placing science at the heart of policy,; and caring for our countryside and rural communities.

"Brexit is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of UK agriculture," Mr Bell said.

"We have a vision for a progressive, profitable, productive farming sector and we want to work with the new government to realise it. There are opportunities, and with the right support we can deliver. We want to see the development of a fairer supply chain, the eradication of bovine TB and a reduction in rural crime."