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Brexit 'could provide opportunity' for Northern Ireland dairy sector

Brexit could pose an opportunity for dairy farmers

FARMING unions across the UK have agreed Brexit could present an "opportunity for change" for the industry.

The unions said the dairy sector in particular could benefit from the move with a "new approach to the problem of price volatility".

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) met with its Scottish, English and Welsh counterparts in Edinburgh.

UFU dairy chairman William Irvine said: "The signs are that milk prices are at last beginning to rise, but volatility is here to stay.

"Our industry needs to make sure it is better equipped to manage the risks to stability that brings.

"We agreed that the strongest case for action will be made if the industry works together, via the four UK farm unions."

The UFU said it was preparing a document looking at the options for managing risk.

"Our aim is to develop an approach to managing risk which farmers and processors can both use to their advantage,” said Mr Irvine.

The UFU did not take an official stance on the EU referendum ahead of the vote in June despite the heavy reliance on European subsidies by the farming community.

And Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said farmers and agricultural producers were becoming "increasingly concerned about the prospect of being dragged out the EU".

She met with representative of the north's Agricultural Producers' Association in Cookstown to discuss "the huge concern that exists in the farming community over the impact of the EU referendum".

"I have met farmers and agricultural producers across the north and it is clear that there is huge levels of uncertainty about what impact that being dragged out of the EU would have on the sector," said Ms Anderson.

"Much of our excellent agricultural produce is exported to other EU states and, as such would be particularly vulnerable to any additional trade barriers.

"The reality is that the majority of people in the north voted to remain in the EU and that democratically expressed view must be acknowledged and respected."

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