Insufficient approach to Northern Ireland agri sector - new report
A new report from the House of Commons in the UK has said there is an "insufficient" approach to considering specific agricultural concerns in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee states that the UK Government must explain how policy for farmers and growers in Northern Ireland will be devised in the absence of an Executive, and in advance of Brexit.
The report examines the future of agriculture in Northern Ireland post-Brexit in the context of the lack of devolved government in Northern Ireland.
Farming and growing plays a bigger part in the Northern Ireland economy than in the rest of the UK has significant differences to the sector in the rest of the country and will be particularly affected by Brexit because of this and due to its proximity to the Republic of Ireland.
The Committee expresses disappointment about DEFRA's "insufficient" approach to considering specific agricultural concerns in Northern Ireland and warns that particular structural and Brexit related challenges must be addressed quickly, with or without an Executive.
Chair of the Committee, Dr Andrew Murrison MP, said: "Brexit brings both opportunities and threats to farmers and growers in Northern Ireland. My Committee is calling on the UK Government to provide clarity and confidence for the Northern Ireland agricultural sector by making plain how a post-Brexit agricultural policy for Northern Ireland will be devised if the political impasse continues into the New Year."
The report said that Northern Ireland has a predominance of smaller, more marginal businesses means that the sector is particularly reliant on direct financial support to maintain a steady income.
The Committee expressed concern at DEFRA's limited engagement with farmers in Northern Ireland during its agricultural policy consultation, and concludes that there has been "insufficient recognition of key differences between Northern Ireland's agriculture sector and that of other parts of the United Kingdom."