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Inquiry will probe effect of Brexit on local farms

The Government has launched an inquiry into the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland's agriculture sector.

It's part of a series by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC), examining the impact of Brexit on the economy and society of the region.

The inquiry was announced as Prime Minister Theresa May visited a farm in Bangor as part of her UK-wide tour to mark 12 months until Brexit.

Stormont's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has also stated its intention to develop a UK-wide agriculture policy.

NIAC's inquiry will identify specific challenges facing the sector here, including the implications of the land border, the role of the North/South Council in co-ordinating policy with Ireland, and the specific industries that will be affected.

Committee chairman Andrew Murrison MP said the future of local agriculture needs to be considered in any Brexit negotiations.

"The land-based economy is vital to Northern Ireland, accounting for almost 50,000 jobs. Businesses are often small, family-run undertakings that are particularly vulnerable to market and regulatory changes," he said.

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"We are launching this inquiry to ensure that the specific challenges facing Northern Ireland's agriculture and horticulture are understood.

"Brexit offers a chance to develop policies that work for UK farmers and growers. The committee will ensure land-based businesses in NI have their say."