Financial pressures are the number one issue facing the 12,000 farming families the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) represents, according to UFU President Barclay Bell.

Farmers, across all sectors, have been dealing with these financial pressures for more than a year said Bell, who met with the Northern Irish Minister for Agriculture, Michelle McIIveen, to discuss ways to ease the pressure.

"We used this meeting to cover actions that could help address this income crisis.

“These included full implementation of the rural development programme, led by the farm business investment and agri-environment schemes, advance CAP payments and payment of agreed support to farmers affected by last winter’s flooding,” Bell said.

The meeting also covered a range of topics, according to the UFU, including...

  • The the distribution of the latest EU agricultural aid package.
  • Brexit.
  • Bovine TB.
  • The future of the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) support.
  • The development of an environmental prosperity agreement.
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) negligible risk status.
  • The abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board, which the UFU has long argued is irrelevant in an era of minimum and national wage legislation.

The UFU also outlined its key objectives for the Assembly at the meeting with Minister McIIveen, which included securing greater fairness along the food supply chain, driving the Going for Growth strategy and ensuring the direct CAP payments farmers rely on reach them as quickly as possible.

The UFU delegation who met with Minister McIIveen was made up of its President, Barclay Bell, Deputy President, Victor Chestnutt and the UFU Chief Executive, Wesley Aston.

This meeting between the UFU and the Minister for Agriculture comes after the four farming unions in the UK met last week and agreed that cross border co-operation is important to develop the right policies that enable the industry to prosper.

Speaking on behalf of the union presidents, Bell said the UK farming unions are committed to providing a united front for the 76,000 farm businesses the four unions represent and the 460,000 people who work on farms across the UK.

In the unchartered waters that our government finds itself, we want to be the consistent, reliable and representative body to look to for expertise in these working areas.

“We believe this will provide us with the best chances of working with Government departments on the policies that will impact UK agriculture,” Bell said.