The Ulster Farmers Union has joined with many leading supermarkets to warn the UK government that a hard Brexit could put UK food supplies at risk.
70 of the Uk’s largest food producers and grocers signed the letter Dairy Crest, Arla Foods, Wetabix. Muller Milk & ingredients and supermarket giants Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencers.
Concerns over hard immigration laws have also been raised. The UK relies heavily on migrant workers for its agriculture sector something which signatories are afraid will stop the ready availability of farm workers and have a direct impact on food output.
The future of northern Irish farming has been the subject of some discussion of late with one leading expert saying that the future of the northern farming sector will be very different with only some 6000 producers down from the current 20,000. Grant support is uncertain for northern and Uk farmers after 2019/20 when EU funding and matched funding will stop. Currently northern Irish farmes receive about £250m a year.
The letter states: “For our sector maintaining tariff-free access to the EU single market is a vital priority. It is where 75% of our food exports go, so all our farming and food businesses wish to achieve this outcome.
“The sector needs access to EU and non-EU seasonal and permanent labour, alongside assurances that EU workers already working permanently in the UK are allowed to remain. This access to labour is essential as it underpins the UK food chain’s timely delivery of high quality affordable food to consumers. We would urge that the UK Government seeks both these goals as the whole of society and the economy will benefit.”
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