UFU welcomes ‘Growing for Growth’ action plan

Thursday, 16 May, 2013

   UFU welcomes ‘Growing for Growth’ action plan but current                  situation facing farmers cannot be overlooked

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the publication of the ‘Going for Growth – Investing in Success’ action plan by the Northern Ireland Agri-Food Strategy Board; however it has stressed that the current reality facing many farmers cannot be overlooked.

UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “The publication of the ‘Growing for Growth’ action plan is a significant milestone for Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry and is something to be celebrated. The message throughout the action plan is that that there is only one supply chain and for our agri-food industry to be successful all partners in the supply chain must be profitable. This is a very timely message, especially given the stark reality facing many farmers.

“Farm incomes in Northern Ireland were down an alarming 50% in 2012 and primary producers as a whole actually spent £150million in order to produce the food on our plates. The cost of production has continued to rise at a startling rate, far outstripping profit margins. This, combined with some of the worst weather in the past 12 months that I can remember and many farms facing serious problems with cash flow, has created a ‘perfect storm’ that is threatening the very foundation of the agri-food industry.”

The UFU has been actively involved in shaping the action plan with UFU Deputy President Ian Marshall and former UFU President John Thompson representing the views of farmers on the NI Agri-Food Strategy Board.

Ian Marshall said; “The development of the action plan is a first step in addressing the serious dysfunction in our supply chain. The next step is implementation and it is crucial that this plan delivers for farmers. The sole purpose of the action plan is to grow the industry, but in order to do this we must address the issue of profitability and primary producers.

“Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry is already considered world class and with the global population expected to reach eight billion by 2030 we are in a prime position to be a top global food producing region. However, in the last five years many primary producers in Northern Ireland have struggled to make a profit producing food and at best have just about broken even. This needs to change. Farmers are the crux of the agri-food industry and they need to be profitable in order ensure the industry is sustainable. The action plan recognises this and if implemented correctly will help to address many of our supply chain concerns.

“We have a genuine opportunity for growth here and we, as an industry, must capitalise on it. The Government has their part to play as well and they must show their support for the agri-food industry by making a tangible commitment to it. Our industry is worth investing in. It is a cornerstone of the Northern Ireland economy, already turning over £4billion annually, but it has the potential to be bigger, better and stronger ultimately benefiting the Northern Ireland economy as a whole.”

The Ulster Farmers’ Union will be examining the full report in more detail and monitoring the progress on implementation closely.