SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, met with representatives of NIAPA and the Ulster Farmers Union in Maghera last week to discuss a range of important agriculture and agri-food issues. The SDLP Agriculture Spokesman, along with his party colleague, Mid Ulster Council Chair, Martin Kearney, was joined by Charlie McConalogue TD of Fianna Fáil, in the meeting with Jim Carmichael of NIAPA and David Brown and James McCluggage from the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
Speaking afterwards Mr McGlone said, “We had a very productive meeting with the representatives of NIAPA and the Ulster Farmers Union in Maghera last week. We discussed a wide range of issues of concern to the agri-food sector including the provisions of the Agriculture Bill, beef and sheep prices, export and import levels and, of course, Brexit and the implications of a no-deal for the economy.
“Given the all-island nature of the agri-food sector in Ireland it was extremely useful to have Charlie McConalogue, TD, present at the meeting to add his perspective on the issues under discussion.
“The agri-food sector on this island is vulnerable to the impact of all forms of Brexit, but particularly the no-deal Brexit that the current British Prime Minister appears intent on driving the UK towards.
“As demonstrated by the British Government’s own assessment of Operation Yellowhammer, agriculture will be hardest hit by a no-deal Brexit with job losses in the sector. Trade on a North/South basis will be severely disrupted generally, and some businesses will be forced to stop trading. In addition, the government’s currently proposed short-term solution for the border post-Brexit is simply unsustainable.
“There are many issues of concern associated with Brexit, especially its effects on our local economy. As well as our continued meetings with the agri-food sector, we will be having a further follow-up meeting with the Permanent Secretary and other senior officials at the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to discuss these and other issues.”