Northern farmers in trade talks deal warning

The British government must ensure the end of excessive bureaucracy if it wants the Northern Irish farming industry to survive the outcome of the World Trade Talks, ministers were warned today.

The British government must ensure the end of excessive bureaucracy if it wants the Northern Irish farming industry to survive the outcome of the World Trade Talks, ministers were warned today.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union said the talks – and the agreement to end EU export refunds by 2013 – presented a huge challenge to the farming industry in the North.

It added that the correct environment must now be created to allow the local beef and dairy sectors to achieve the competitiveness required in an increasingly globalised market place.

UFU president Campbell Tweed, who was part of the European farming delegation at the Hong Kong trade talks, said it was now essential the farming sector was not hampered by excessive bureaucracy as it responded to the new WTO policies.

“Bureaucracy means more cost and more time for farms, which are essentially small businesses.

“If we are to have a vibrant industry, producing good food and contributing positively to the economy, the government must ensure that excessive bureaucracy ends,” he said.

The UFU had argued strongly that Europe already had a strong track record in assisting developing nations through its Everything But Arms Agreement, he said.

The UFU said it would continue to lobby in relation to the issue of market access, which is to be debated within the WTO during next year.

It highlighted the disruptive impact of Brazilian beef imports on the local beef sector.

“Under-valued food imports can have a very damaging impact on our local industry.

"We will urge the EU Commission to ensure all imports are produced to the same standards as on European farms and to continue to focus on preferential market access for very poor countries,” said Mr Tweed.

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