UFU welcomes food policy debate

Northern Ireland farming leaders have welcomed the public debate on food security triggered by Defra’s food policy consultation.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said it will use the consultation to highlight the strategic importance of Northern Ireland farms to UK food supply.

UFU president Graham Furey said: “Our farmers should be central to the development and delivery of the Government’s food policy.

“Farming is already contributing strongly to economic activity in Northern Ireland. Almost 50,000 people work on our farms and the target this year for the agri-food sector is an impressive turnover of over £3bn. Longer term, the future looks bright for a region like ours, with a great heritage of farming, stockmanship and food production.”

Furey said the UFU will also raise the current lack of profitability on farms and the importance of establishing a retailer ombudsman to ensure farmers have a greater chance of receiving a fair return from the food chain.

“We will also be highlighting other important issues, such as the need for food imports to meet the same high standards as local production, and we continue to be concerned in Northern Ireland that farm gate prices here are unjustifiably lower than in other regions of the UK for our main commodities,” he said.