Ulster Farmers' Union joins UK counterparts in call for MEPs to ensure no-deal Brexit is avoided
The Ulster Farmers' Union has joined with its counterparts in Britain to call on the MEPs returned in next week's European elections to guarantee that a no-deal Brexit is avoided.
The farming unions have launched a new document ahead of today's start of the Balmoral Show, identifying areas where they say that action is needed "to help deliver a profitable, productive and progressive farming sector".
Yesterday's joint statement from the farming bodies put Brexit alongside five other issues - trade and standards, climate change, environment, healthy plants and animals and science and innovation.
"However long UK MEPs are in post, it is important they understand and engage with UK farmers," said the presidents.
"Our industry provides the quality ingredients for our safe, traceable and affordable supply of food and underpins the UK food and drink sector, worth £122bn.
"Whatever the outcome of Brexit we need a policy environment that allows farming businesses to continue to deliver benefits for the public such as high quality, affordable food and protection for our wildlife and countryside.
"These ambitions are not only hugely relevant for the UK but also across the EU and they start with ensuring that developments on Brexit prioritise the needs of farm businesses and the long-term prosperity of the agri-food sector.
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"We must maintain our positive relationship with our European neighbours and work in partnership with them to develop an enabling regulatory regime that allows our sector to thrive."
The presidents said that they want MEPs to work to ensure that a no-deal is avoided and that there is not another "cliff edge scenario".
They also urge leaders to engage with EU colleagues to limit any negative effects of Brexit on UK and EU farmers and to meet with UK farmers on a regular basis to understand their specific concerns and act with those concerns in mind.
At the Ulster Farmers' Union annual dinner last month, president Ivor Ferguson warned that a no-deal Brexit would be "economically disastrous" for the industry.
He said that it was "unbelievable" that the situation of farmers in Northern Ireland, the Republic and Britain meant that they were still operating without 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," added the UFU president.