Barclay Bell, President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union in Northern Ireland, was speaking on RTE Radio’s This Week programme on Sunday (June 11).

On the show, he discussed what Northern farmers wished to see in relation to Brexit and its implications – particularly in light of the recent UK General Election results, with the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) now placed in a position of power ahead of talks with Prime Minister May’s Conservative Party on supporting a Tory government.

Bell explained the key priorities ahead of Brexit for Northern Ireland, stating: “There are probably four priority areas as the UK approaches leaving the EU, and those are trade, agricultural support, regulation and labour.

“I think, in all of this, probably the big one is the whole issue of trade. What we’ve been saying all along is we want to continue to have the best possible access to European markets.

I think something that is key in all of this is that we want to minimize any disruption to existing trade relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

When asked if staying in the customs union – or something of the kind – was the best option, Bell responded: “Absolutely, I think that possibly the best solution here would be to remain in something akin to the customs union.

Nearly at the stroke of a pen you have the whole issue of the border sorted out and the continued flow of trade could carry on nearly as was.

The issue of the other key priority for farmers – agricultural supports – was then put to Bell, who responded: “We would like to see the amount of support that we are currently getting – that going forward this would be at least equivalent to that.

And while Theresa May has indicated that she will support the industry through until 2022, after that we have absolutely no guarantees of any sort.

“When you look at the figures and consider that there’s something like €300 million coming into Northern Ireland each year in farm support – a huge amount of money – unless the marketplace was delivering better returns to farmers, we just could not survive without that support.”

Asked if he wished to see any deal between the DUP and the Tories extend beyond 2022 and give absolute certainty, Bell replied that such a point would be a “key ask”.