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UFU among UK farm unions to unite behind Theresa May - Brexit draft deal 'an opportunity that needs to be taken'

The heads of the unions representing farmers right across the UK have come together to support the Prime Minister's draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.

On Tuesday, in an article for the Belfast Telegraph Theresa May said the withdrawal deal reached with the EU provided a "brighter future" for Northern Ireland.  However, it has caused strain with the DUP - which rejects the draft deal - and put in jeopardy the two sides' confidence and supply agreement.

In a joint statement the Ulster Farmers' Union, NFU Scotland, NFU England and NFU Cymru they said that while the deal was not perfect it would allow trade to continue largely in its current format after the UK's departure from the EU in March.

The statement said: “Farmers want clarity on what the future trading relationship with Europe will be.  We have argued for free and frictionless trade with the EU to continue, with no tariffs or non-tariff barriers.

“The default of trading with the EU under WTO rules alone is unacceptable and would decimate our industry.

“The draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, while not perfect, will ensure that there are no hard barriers on the day we leave the European Union, and will allow trade in agricultural goods and UK food & drink to continue throughout the transition period largely as before.  This opportunity needs to be taken."

The statement continued: “UK farmers produce food to some of the highest production and animal welfare standards in the world.  The food and farming industry continue to urge government to protect these standards and maintain the high levels of trade in agricultural goods between the UK and the EU, our largest export market.”

The DUP, however, has hit out at the deal saying it breaches the Prime Minister's agreement with the party and the Conservatives election manifesto. Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said business organisations lining up to support the deal were wrong.

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