Monday, October 22, 2018

Brexit and agriculture in Northern Ireland

A House of Commons Select Committee report has just been published on this topic: Northern Ireland

The report states, 'We are concerned that Defra’s consultation on Post-Brexit agriculture policy does not look in detail at the sector in Northern Ireland. We have also heard that there has been little direct engagement with farmers in Northern Ireland on this consultation, and consequently there has been insufficient recognition of key differences between Northern Ireland’s agriculture sector and that of other parts of the United Kingdom.'

'This is a particular concern given the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive, which means that an agricultural policy for Northern Ireland cannot be developed independently at this time.'

The report notes, 'Direct Payments are essential to the viability of much of the agriculture sector in Northern Ireland, and the level of support available to Northern Ireland farms must not be reduced following Brexit. Northern Ireland’s agricultural funding should be maintained until at least 2022.'

The report also notes, 'EU farming regulations have been frustrating for farmers, and at times counterproductive. Brexit is an opportunity to redesign farming regulation and inspection to simplify compliance and to reflect the circumstances in which Northern Ireland’s farmers operate. The Government’s ambition is to introduce smarter regulation and enforcement, but we heard that this may be easier said than done. There is also a tension between reducing regulatory burdens and maintaining the high environmental and animal welfare standards that the public expects.'

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