Farmers in North face ‘cliff edge’ in no-deal Brexit

Ulster Farmers’ Union urges UK government to ensure hard Brexit avoided

Ulster Farmers’ Union: “The worst possible outcome for the farming industry is a no-deal”. Photograph: iStock

Ulster Farmers’ Union: “The worst possible outcome for the farming industry is a no-deal”. Photograph: iStock

 

Farmers in the North face a “cliff edge scenario” if the UK leaves the EU with no deal, a representative body has warned.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said on Friday that the UK must “secure a deal that delivers free and frictionless trade with the EU because the alternative poses a serious threat to future livelihoods and businesses in Northern Ireland.

According to Ivor Ferguson, president of the UFU, which is celebrating its centenary this year, the UK government’s latest guidance on a ‘no-deal’ outcome to the negotiations reinforces farmers’ worst fears.

Mr Ferguson said: “We understand that the government must prepare for all eventualities but it is critical that they do everything they can to ensure the no-deal scenario is avoided. If we leave the EU without a deal the UK becomes a ‘third country’ trading partner. This means tariffs, checks, paperwork, and delays.

“The latest notices include one which relates to the export of animals and animal products and suggests we would face a cliff-edge scenario if we leave the EU with no deal. This is completely unacceptable and would be disastrous for farming in Northern Ireland, particularly for our sheep industry, and for the economy.”

The UFU president said that the lack of clarity about future arrangements for the border also remains a key issue.

Border question

Mr Ferguson said the farming body believes any “solution” to the Border question must not only guarantee minimal disruption to North-South trade but ensure that East-West trade is also unaffected .

“The worst possible outcome for the farming industry is a no-deal,” Mr Ferguson said.

Separately, the North’s department of agriculture, environment and rural affairs confirmed on Friday that the total value of direct payments to farmers in the North will be reduced “by £0.61million compared to 2017” because of a less favourable exchange rate this year.