Disorderly exit would be economically disastrous, warns head of farming union
The president of the Ulster Farmers' Union has warned that a no-deal Brexit will be "economically disastrous" for Northern Ireland.
Speaking in Enniskillen yesterday after a meeting with the presidents of the largest farming bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic, Ivor Ferguson called for "sufficient time" to enable a way forward on Brexit to protect agri-businesses.
The farming leaders met ahead of a UFU event at the Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh, with Theresa May's request to extend Article 50 topping the agenda.
Mr Ferguson said it remained crucial for politicians to prioritise the needs of business and the welfare and long-term prosperity of the agri-food sector.
"We want to make clear that a no-deal exit would be economically disastrous, and that we need to avoid a catastrophic, disorderly exit from the EU," he said.
"Any extension must be used constructively and not merely delay no-deal, setting up another 'cliff edge' scenario."
Mr Ferguson said the choice of the border location for yesterday's meeting was significant.
"Farming families in border regions, like Co Fermanagh, have much to lose in a no-deal scenario or a badly managed Brexit," he warned. "It is unbelievable that farmers and growers in the UK, Ireland and in the rest of Europe are still operating without any certainty on a future trading relationship. This is having real world business consequences right now as well as causing unnecessary stress and huge anxiety for farmers who simply don't know what trading conditions they will be operating under in the future," he continued.
"There is a common call coming from organisations representing thousands of farming families to ensure free and frictionless trade, alignment on high standards of production, and a determination to cooperate for the best possible future for our members.