The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) is very concerned about Northern Ireland (NI) farmers being able to access genetics which they rely on from the rest of the UK after January 1, 2021.

Following the end of the transition period, Great Britain (GB) will be treated as a third country adding extra complications when transporting livestock to NI and there is further worry that because of this, GB/NI trade could come to an end.

UFU animal health and welfare chairman Andrew McCammond said:

"Despite the announcement in the House of Commons on Wednesday, December 9th, no acceptable solution was found for sanitary and phytosanitary checks for animals moving from GB to NI.

"Implementing new rules that interfere with the GB/NI trade will have a detrimental effect on our pedigree and commercial animals.

NI farmers rely heavily on sourcing breeding stock from GB and the inability to access these animals in the future is a huge threat to our farmers.

In the recently published UK government command paper, it stated that the co-chairs of the EU-UK Joint Committee are 'securing additional flexibilities and adaptations to support NI businesses'.

The issue of livestock trade between GB and NI affects family farm businesses across the North and the UFU is hopeful it will find a solution as soon as possible.

McCammond added:

"Continuing GB/NI trade is essential for the future of NI's breeding stock. Without the ability to source animals from outside NI's gene pool, farmers will find it difficult to identify new bloodlines within a very short period of time."

The UFU has been actively working on this issue for some time and is engaging with all stakeholders and government to find a workable arrangement.

"Farmers require clarity enabling them to make effective decisions going into 2021 and beyond," he concluded.