UFU welcomes Gove’s commitment on food policy but warns change still poses a threat

Friday, 5 January, 2018

Ulster Farmers’ Union president, Barclay Bell, says the DEFRA Secretary's comments on the development of a coherent policy on food at the Oxford Farming Conference recognise farmers' role in delivering safe, affordable food and maintaining the countryside.

The UFU president added that he welcomed a pledge from DEFRA to champion high quality UK food at home and abroad.  But he warned that this and food security would not be achieved if there was an imbalance in the support equation in favour of the environment and away from food production.

“We need a balanced approach and Mr Gove must recognise the overwhelming importance of food production and food security. Farmers can deliver environmental goods but if funding is not there to support food security, the UK’s reliance on imported food will increase. This would undermine local food production and drive down food and environmental standards,” warned Mr Bell.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says the reaffirmation from the DEFRA Secretary, Michael Gove that existing funding levels for agriculture will continue until 2022, is positive news for farmers, the general public and the economy and will also give time to develop the tools necessary to adapt to a changed future.

“The funding farmers receive is not a luxury.  Without it most family farms in Northern Ireland would not be viable. By producing food and looking after the countryside, farmers deliver jobs and environmental benefits for society – and the government has given this welcome recognition,” he said.

The UFU says it is up for the challenge of working in partnership with government to develop a post-Brexit agricultural policy.  “As farmers we are committed to producing the high quality food as well as looking after the countryside", he said.