European farm lobbying group COPA-COGECA has granted UK farming unions permission to continue their membership despite leaving the EU.

However, as it is now outside the EU, the UK will lose its voting rights within the organisation.

The UK farming unions have been a member of the body, which represents farmers and agricultural co-operatives within the European Union, since it was formed as COPA in 1958.

It merged with COGECA in 1962 to become COPA-COGECA.

'Stronger presence within BAB'

Speaking to agricultural journalists today (January 14), Ulster Farmers' Union president Victor Chesnutt confirmed the union would continue its membership of the organisation.

Chesnutt added that the UFU would also have a "stronger presence" within the British Agriculture Bureau (BAB).

"While they are still there because they are interested to see what is going on in Europe, it affects us first-hand," he said.

"NI remains part of the EU regulatory zone, so effectively the regulations which are made in Brussels will still apply in NI and may or may not in GB.

"It is in NI interests that they have someone in Brussels to keep an eye on what is coming down the track.

"By the four farming UK unions remaining members of COPA they will not have voting rights and may not be able to attend some commission meetings; however, they will be able to access the full services of COPA.

It is hoped that the UK farming unions will still have influence as they contribute with evidence-based policymaking. However, things will be different and will require a different way of working.

BAB represents National Farmers' Union, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, the National Pig Association and the Ulster Farmers' Union in the EU from its base in Brussels.

The bureau was established by the NFU in 1972 with the purpose of promoting the views of UK farmers within the European Commission.