WHILST coronavirus con-
tinued to dominate the airwaves during 2021, climate change was also a frontrunner with Clare Bailey’s Private Member’s Bill and the Northern Ireland Executive Bill progressing through the NI Assembly.
Farmers are part of the climate change solution and it’s important that we all increase our environmental responsibility. Our livestock sector is not up for sale. There are 20 million people in the world undernourished and we must use our temperate climate to help feed humanity – we should not be a contributor to carbon leakage.
There will be challenges to overcome in 2022. With traders now facing extra costs and complexity with new checks, and additional problems with labour availability, it’s important that Government does all it can to prioritise exports of our high quality, perishable agricultural products to make sure that this food is not left to go to waste.
Undoubtedly, there will be twists and turns as we navigate a new life within the NI Protocol. While parts of the NI Protocol have been working for the agri-food industry, several continue to cause significant difficulties. We will be continuing our efforts in 2022 to gain relaxations and find solutions to these practical problems.
The recent launch of the Future Agricultural Policy Proposals for
NI consultation, is a major mile-stone for the industry. It is a once in a generation opportunity to redefine agriculture policies and support, to guarantee the sustainability of our unique family farm structure going forward. It’s now crucial that DAERA works with farm businesses to make sure the new policy is fit for purpose. This is vital to ensure NI farmers can continue to produce food
to the highest standards, delivering for consumers while protecting and enhancing the environment.
2022 is going to be the year when TB is addressed once and for all. The disease has been a plague on farmers for generations, it has caused chaos for NI farm families on a personal level as well as professionally. In the summary report on the department’s Proposed Implementation and Next Steps of the bTB Eradication Strategy for NI, it’s very clear that our farmers want the implementation of a strategy without delay. One that tackles TB in all of its hosts to eradicate the disease at long last.
The NI farming industry’s desire to continue producing fantastic food, produced to some of the highest standards in the world, remains steadfast. Not only do we want to be the number-one supplier of choice domestically, but we also have a world-renowned reputation for quality food that can be at the forefront of the Government’s Global Britain ambition.
I truly believe there is more that brings us together than divides us, and the Ulster Farmers’ Union is a template to follow. UFU members are a coalition of views that come together to fight for the greater common good. We have members in the highest hills, lowest lowlands and everywhere in-between.
Our members all have different challenges and ambitions. Yet,
as an industry, we are inter-dependent on each other. In many ways, this is our strength and something that the political process can learn from.
I really missed the opportunity to meet members at local shows and events throughout this year, but I hope that they will get back up and running in 2022. I am looking forward to seeing you all at our “presidents’ area roadshows” in January.
Finally, I wish you all a prosperous and healthy New Year from myself and the entire UFU team, and please remember to stay safe when out and about on farms.