Future US trade deal cannot undermine farmers, says UFU

Tuesday, 5 March, 2019

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says negotiating objectives published by the United States of America (USA) for a potential UK/USA trade deal make for grim reading for farmers. UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said, “The US objectives do not come as a surprise. A trade deal that accepts US production standards and practices and allows full access to the UK’s food market has always been a priority for them. However, we have been adamant from the outset – any future trade deals, including with the USA, must not allow imported food produced to lower standards than those required here. Ultimately, this would undercut local farmers, making them uncompetitive and would have a serious and detrimental impact on farmers across the UK.”

The UFU says UK consumers enjoy the third most affordable food in the world, produced to some of the highest animal welfare, food hygiene and environmental standards on the planet; as well as some of the most stunning landscapes. Mr Ferguson said, “Farmers work hard to produce the high quality food consumers’ demand and to look after the country’s cherished countryside. It would be a great disservice to the wider public and the farming community if these assets were sacrificed for a trade deal. We cannot allow food products produced at a lower standard, at a lower cost to flood the UK market and undermine NI farm family businesses.”

Mr Ferguson says now is the time for the UK government and politicians to get behind the UK’s farming industry. “Brexit presents us with many opportunities. We are world leaders in food production and environmental standards and we should build on these strengths as we look to secure future trade deals. Using agri-food and farm family businesses as a bargaining chip is unacceptable. High quantities of lower standard, lower cost imports will considerably weaken our industry and pose a threat to the UK’s overall food security,” he said.