We could soon have oil, gas and cheap meat products from America and Brazil as a part of a post-Brexit trade deal. What is the risk?
American farming practice includes the injection of growth-promoting hormones in beef, use of antibiotics and the washing of chicken carcasses in chlorinated compounds - all are lawful and necessary. Why? Pursuit of profit by meat producers promotes diseases; these pass to humans.
Our approach is different: local farmers use fan-assisted hot-water radiators and hi-tech boilers fuelled by renewable fuels.
These replaced the naked-flame, liquid petroleum gas burners which, whilst cheap, effective and speedy, increased humidity and released greenhouse gases - including ammonia - from decomposition of wet litter.
There were big costs: plumbing, pumps, fans, new boilers and, significantly, additional fuel. RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) investors have committed £109 million of their own money, and pay annual interest rates of more than £5.5m. All in the RHI scheme are reliant on the guaranteed rebates to sustain their loan payments. In many cases these are not now being paid.
The political and inter-departmental squabble over the running of RHI will drag on. If it does, we will lose sight of the benefits from, and the need to invest in, renewables. Department for the Economy RHI scheme clients will go bankrupt. Renewables are critical to our rural economy, to the viability of our forestry, wood processing and to our ethical farming practice. They help to keep our food supply chain safe, chlorine and antibiotics-free.
Chair, Renewable Heat Association, Northern Ireland