Politicians urged to seal acceptable Brexit deal by UFU chief
The head of the Ulster Farmers' Union has reiterated that a no deal Brexit outcome will be "unacceptable" for the future of farming in Northern Ireland.
In a new year message, UFU president Ivor Ferguson called on politicians to deliver an agreement that will facilitate trade with the rest of the UK and with the 27 remaining EU member states.
"The UFU has always made clear that what we want is free and frictionless trade," he said.
"Farmers have consistently said a 'no deal' outcome would be unacceptable for the future of farming. We are uncomfortable when we are drawn into mainstream politics, but that is inescapable when the future of our farming industry is on the negotiating table.
"Regardless of politics, we will continue to do our best to ensure a successful future for the industry."
Mr Ferguson described "a once in a life time opportunity" to develop agriculture policy for Northern Ireland that delivers "a productive, profitable and progressive farming industry".
"Northern Ireland's future agriculture policy must support active farm businesses to be productive, sustainable, while delivering public goods," he said.
"The Government must allow as much time as possible for transition to the new policy. Farmers will need time to adapt their businesses. Also, flexibility for the different UK regions within a common policy framework is key.
"Our local policy must suit our needs. We are also supportive of the ability to pilot new practical support measures during this period which could be subsequently rolled out more widely."