UFU call to all local councils to support NI food production

Wednesday, 22 July, 2020

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is urging councils to support their local food producers and businesses to help sustain Northern Ireland’s (NI) agri-food industry during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This message follows on from the UFU’s advertisement campaigns on TV channel UTV and radio station Cool FM, which asked consumers to support local and chose homegrown produce they can trust.

Most recently Ulster Unionist councillor and Deputy Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough (ABC) Council Kyle Savage, proposed a motion to support local producers and businesses within the council's procurement processes. It was passed unanimously by ABC Council.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said, “The UFU would like to commend councillor and Deputy Lord Mayor Kyle Savage, for successfully getting ABC Council to commit to supporting local food production. This is a significant development during the current COVID-19 pandemic as many food producers across Northern Ireland are struggling to sustain their businesses during these difficult times, and local councils have the ability to influence residents in their areas to do the same. ABC Council is setting a positive example and leading the way in championing NI food producers by supporting local. The next step is for all other councils to follow suit and support farmers, producers and homegrown businesses in their area.

“By passing this motion, ABC Council has recognised the efforts of our farmers and producers who ensure shop shelves remain stocked with delicious, trustworthy produce. We all want to be able to purchase high-quality food when needed no matter what is going on in the world, and safeguarding food security here in NI is crucial to achieve that which is why we must support local food production and choose locally produced food. If COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that when times are hard, we rely on our neighbours more than ever and that includes our local food producers.”

From an agriculture background, Mr Savage understands how important supporting local is, not only for the farming community but for the entire NI economy.

He said, “As a farmer, I can see firsthand the pressure that is facing our industry with the Agriculture Bill and the potential prospect of food imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone fed beef which are illegal to produce in Northern Ireland. Our agriculture industry supports up to 100,000 jobs in Northern Ireland and it is now time to actively support our local farmers, producers and businesses. That`s why the Ulster Unionist Group brought this motion to the Council and I am happy to say that it got cross party support. Now we need to put plans into action. Jobs rely on it.”