Report stresses how much is at stake regarding Brexit, says UFU

Thursday, 25 July, 2019

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says DAERA’s annual report on the size and performance of the Northern Ireland food and drinks processing sector, reinforces just how important the agri-food industry is to the NI economy and how much is at stake regarding Brexit.

In 2017 the NI food and drinks processing sector has grown with a sales increase of 10.6 per cent. GB remains the largest outlet for the NI food and drinks processing sector representing 49 per cent of total sales and the ROI, is the most significant export destination accounting for £716 million in 2017 – an increase from 2016.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said, “The statistics in DAERA’s report provides further evidence that the Northern Ireland agri-food and drink sector is a very major contributor to the local economy and reinforces how important it is that a no-deal Brexit is avoided.”

Mr Ferguson says it is encouraging to see an upward trend generally and especially in employment. “We are immensely proud of our industry, including our ability to provide new jobs, and the quality raw material that is produced on our family farms across Northern Ireland, which is the solid base on which this industry is built. However, the UK is due to officially leave the EU on the 31st October and the date is fast approaching with a solution to avoiding a no-deal still to be found. A no-deal Brexit will inevitably end the current free trade arrangements across the island of Ireland by introducing export tariffs and additional controls and checks which will also add cost. The introduction of differential import tariff arrangements within the UK will also undermine our home and GB markets. The combination of all of these would be disastrous for farmers, processors and the entire Northern Ireland economy.”