Northern Ireland

Ulster Farmers' Union will not 'lie down' over Brexit talks

Barclay Bell
Image caption Trade and investment in farming have been identified as priorities, said UFU president Barclay Bell

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) will not "lie down" and "wave the white flag" before any negotiations over the UK's vote to leave the EU, says its president.

The UFU has held talks with other UK farmers' unions in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Trade and investment in the industry have been identified as priorities, said UFU president Barclay Bell.

Mr Bell added that he was confident trade would continue with Europe.

"Currently the UK is 60% self-sufficient in food, so 40% of our food has to be imported to feed the 60 million people in the UK," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster.

"The Danes will want to continue to get their bacon on our supermarket shelves, Ireland will want to continue to get their beef and dairy products into our markets, France will want to get in with their wine.

"Here we have the world's fifth biggest economy and reciprocal arrangements will have to be established."

Mr Bell was responding to an article in The Sunday Times by political commentator Newton Emerson in which it was claimed Brexit would force Northern Ireland farmers out of a "benefit trap" and create special problems for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"They are a very special case when it comes to the single market," Mr Emerson told Good Morning Ulster on Tuesday.

"When you look at the single market, the tariffs around it are actually pretty low about 3% for manufactured goods, less than the exchange rate fluctuations that businesses are dealing with over the border.

"But food and farming are very, very different. The tariffs are set up around Europe deliberately to be protectionist, it is even worse for Ireland north and south because the tariffs are higher again in things we specialise in."

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