Brexit concerns loom large for north and south farmers

UFU and IFA members meet to discuss impact of Brexit north and south of the border and key Rural Development Programme policy issues
Andrew Madden

THE Ulster Farmers' Union and the Irish Farmers' Union have met to discuss their mutual concerns over the potential effects of Brexit on the farming industry and issues surrounding EU's rural development programme.

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt spoke of the strong links between the neighbouring unions - each being the largest industry in their respective economies - and of their involvement in any future deals.

“Any future trade negotiations between the UK and the EU must take this into consideration,” he said.

Areas of natural constraints (ANC) designation, which is part of the EU's rural development program, was also discussed. ANC refers to areas where there is challenging landscape, weather or soil issues which can affect farming yields.

Through ANC designation, farmers are compensated financially for these disadvantages. However, Chestnutt explained that new ANC maps drawn out by DAERA which identify such areas are not reflective of reality.

“Farmers have become accustomed to the existing severely disadvantaged areas map and we see no reason to change,” he said.

“This is an early opportunity for the DAERA Minister to make a break from EU regulations by challenging the Commission on this requirement.

"Pushing for derogation or at worst seeking an extension on the date we are due to designate by would reduce the burden for both farmers and DAERA, allowing us to concentrate on more important priorities such as trade.”

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