Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president, David Brown attended last weekend’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) annual conference in Belfast.

He confirmed that the organisation has attended all of the political parties’ annual conferences of recent weeks.

“And this will conclude with the Sinn Féin annual conference next weekend,” he said.  

“The UFU wants to see the re-establishment of the Stormont Assembly and Executive. There are a large number of issues that require an active involvement of local politicians.

“These include the establishment of a new bovine TB eradication policy and the development of future support policies for the sheep sector.”

Brown also indicated that a number of issues relating to the recent establishment of green and red lanes at ports and airports, for goods coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain, need to be addressed as a matter of priority.

As part of the Windsor Framework, the new red/green lane measures came into effect on October 1, 2023.

One issue that has arisen over the past week relates to the importation of farm machinery into Northern Ireland.

David Brown explained: “Machinery entering Northern Ireland and destined to stay here can come in through the green lane.

“However, machinery items destined to be moved on to the Republic of Ireland, come under the criteria laid down within what’s called a Northern Ireland Plant Health Label, or NIPHL. These items must come in through the red lane.

“So, in other words, machinery importers in Northern Ireland must pay to have a phytosanitary certificate generated for all machinery destined for customers in the Republic of Ireland.

“A significant number of machinery dealers in Northern trade with customers south of the border.

“These issues relating to machinery imports coming in from GB have only come to light over the past few days. And I am not sure if all machinery importers are fully aware, as yet, of what the new requirements entail,” he added.

Brown said the UFU will seek clarification on this matter from the Cabinet Office in London as a matter of priority.

Ian Paisley MP aattended the DUP annual conference. He specifically highlighted the issues that had arisen over the importation of farm machinery from GB into Northern Ireland.

“I will be taking this matter up with the UK government as a matter of priority,” he said.

DUP on Vet medicines

Another outworking of the current Windsor Framework, that is a priority according to Paisley, is the pending threat of limitations being imposed on the numbers of veterinary medicines that can be imported into Northern Ireland.

“This measure is due to kick-in next year. If fully implemented it could strongly jeopardise the health and well-being of all farm animals in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Former Northern Ireland agriculture minister, Edwin Poots MLA, also attended the DUP conference.

Addressing the UFU’s concern regarding the future availability of support measures for the sheep sector, he said:

“Monies have been ringfenced to support the sheep industry. The problem relates to the development of a policy vehicle, which will allow this funding to be allocated.

“All of the post-Brexit support schemes have been designed to reduce the carbon footprint of the various farming sectors.

“Unfortunately, there is no universal traceability system operating within that sector at the present time.

“So, short of physically inspecting all flocks, it would not be possible to determine if a ewe lamb, as opposed to a hogget, had been put to the ram,” he concluded.