Ahead of the UK general election, scheduled to take place on June 8, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is calling on politicians to “back farming” as it launches its general election manifesto.

Farming matters. It is a cornerstone of our economy, instrumental in managing our countryside, and at the heart of our rural communities. Shoppers want to buy local food that is world-renowned for being safe, affordable and high quality and we want to deliver it,” said UFU President Barclay Bell.

The manifesto covers five key policy challenges:

  • Making Brexit a success
  • Investing for growth
  • Safeguarding fair, safe and secure supply chains
  • Placing science at the heart of policy making
  • Caring for our countryside and rural communities.

According to the UFU, it is crucial that the UK food and farming sector, working alongside the government, addresses these points in the next parliament.

The UK agri-food industry is valued at £108 billion annually and employs 3.9 million people.

Bell noted how the industry was in a time of “unprecedented change”. He added how it is vital that the government gets behind farmers to ensure a sustainable and profitable future for UK agriculture and the wider agri-food industry.

The UFU places emphasis on Brexit, and making it a success, having been subject to comments that the union had not fully worked out its final Brexit strategy position, after the IFA Brexit conference in April.

“Brexit is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of UK agriculture. We have a vision for a progressive, profitable, productive farming sector and we want to work with the new government to help us realise it,” commented Bell.

The union is also aware of the other challenges facing farmers; a fairer supply chain, the eradication of TB, and rural crime are also covered in their manifesto ahead of the general election.