Ulster Unionist Leader Robin Swann MLA has said the revelation that farm incomes fell by nearly a quarter in 2018, highlights the potentially catastrophic impact a no-deal Brexit could have on the local industry.
Robin Swann said:
“Farming is a difficult livelihood with fluctuating markets compounded by constant unknowns from one year to the next. This uncertainty however has been greatly increased in the two years since the EU referendum.
“It is ridiculous that we are now less than two months away from Brexit and our farmers still have no better idea now how they will be supported in the future, than they had two years ago.
“As a result of the continuing Stormont impasse, Northern Ireland is the only region with a blank page in terms of what future agri support may look like. That, combined with the fact that Northern Ireland farmers have the most to lose from a no deal Brexit, means that the industry here is in an incredibly precarious situation.
“The revelation that real time farm incomes fell by 24% in 2018 – a year when beef and milk prices were strong and weather conditions were very favourable – shows that the industry has the potential to be decimated if it were suddenly forced to compete against cheap, lower quality food imported from other less reputable countries.
“Decisions taken over the next two months will have a huge impact on the future of entire generations of farming families. We are rapidly running out of time and all sides urgently need to see the impact of what a bungled Brexit outcome would be.”