UFU reassured over potential Brexit funding cuts by agriculture minister Gove

UFU president Barclay Bell pictured with DEFRA secretary Michael Gove during his visit to Northern Ireland last week

THE Ulster Farmers' Union has said it has been reassured over funding fears post Brexit after a visit from DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Secretary Michael Gove.

On a visit to Northern Ireland last week the agriculture minister visited a farm near Doagh in Co Antrim, where he said farmers in Northern Ireland can expect to get roughly the same amount of financial support after Brexit. He also spoke to UFU members, including president Barclay Bell.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Bell said it was encouraging that Mr Gove has accepted the overriding need for farms to be profitable.

“This is the second meeting we have had with the Secretary, and I believe he is taking on board the issues raised by the farming industry,” Mr Bell said.

"The UFU was encouraged by Mr Gove's commitment to not only continue the existing level of support during the current Parliament but also his willingness to see decision making devolved to the UK regions, in line with existing funding commitments. We discussed his suggestion of a freeze in individual payments to farmers during a transitional period until a new support system was introduced and of the potential to pilot new support mechanisms, which we could possibly implement at a regional level."

In terms of trade Mr Gove outlined his supported for the retention of the current arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic, as well as the European Union.

"We were pleased to hear him restate his position that lower standard imports should not be allowed to undermine UK producers. We also received assurances about farming and the food industry maintaining access to labour, which was welcome.”

"The UFU believes that Mr Gove fully understands the problem with regulation and the key difference between outcomes and process – the latter being red tape for the sake of red tape. If he can bring this into a new support policy for UK agriculture it will be a major gain for the industry,” Mr Bell added.

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