During a meeting of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Stormont on Monday, MPs were told that Northern Irish farmers need certainty on the future of the industry.
Farmers spoke of the challenges faced by the industry as a result of Brexit during the inquiry into the impact of Brexit on farming. MPs heard the pleas of multiple farmers who wanted to ensure farms on marginal ground would be protected, making sure that ground would not be left empty.
Beef and sheep farmer, Peter Gallagher was asked by the committee if he felt cross-border trade would cause problems. He replied: “The problem is we don’t know whether it’s going to be a problem and that’s the concern, it’s the uncertainty around that.”
Six farmers from arable, horticulture, pig, poultry, beef and sheep and dairy sectors were invited to address the committee. The committee was told access to GB markets was “key” the the pig and poultry sectors.
Politicians were told 30% of Northern Irish milk crosses the border for processing and that EU markets were important specifically for sheep sales.
Thomas Douglas, a poultry farmer accused the EU of “playing a political game” and added that they were “using the Northern Ireland border as the football and they are using the Republic of Ireland as one team and the UK as the other team”.
Douglas said of Brexit: “The biggest thing, and I think all of us would agree, is we need to know what is going to happen in Brexit, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, let us know so we can organise the Northern Ireland agriculture to deal with it.”