NI farmers 'alarmed' at Johnson's farm subsidy pledge

Conservative leadership hopeful Boris Johnson has pledged an extra £25m a year in subsidies for Scottish farmers post-Brexit
Conservative leadership hopeful Boris Johnson has pledged an extra £25m a year in subsidies for Scottish farmers post-Brexit

NI farmers have raised concerns over Boris Johnson’s farm subsidies plan, stressing that agricultural output remains the 'fairest measure' for allocating UK farm funding.

The Conservative leadership hopeful pledged an extra £25 million a year for Scottish farmers in particular if he were to become prime minister.

The former Foreign Secretary promised millions in subsidies once the UK leaves the European Union as Scottish farmers have been 'poorly treated'.

But the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) are seeking clarity about where the additional money will come from.

Any suggested reduction in the amount of support for Northern Ireland is 'cause for widespread concern', it said.

UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said: “Our long-held view is that the most equitable way to allocate farming subsidy between the UK regions is based on agricultural output and we can see no justification for amending the current UK formula.

“This provides the fairest reflection of both the historic and current activity in the supported sectors undertaken in each region.

“Based on this allocation method Scotland receives the highest proportionate share of CAP Pillar 1 support than any other UK region in terms of supported sector output.”

Meanwhile, both NI and Wales receive a lesser percentage than their supported sector output justifies, he said.

Mr Ferguson added: “Scotland also differentiates direct farm support based on land productivity to restrict the funding on unproductive land with one of its three regions receiving a flat rate payment of just over €10 per hectare.”

The union said the 'added complication' of an agricultural supply chain that is deeply integrated with the Republic of Ireland (ROI) is a reason why NI will be 'more adversely affected' by a 'badly managed Brexit' than any other UK region.

The UFU president continued: “The possibility of funding allocation adjustments could not come at a worse time for farmers in Northern Ireland.

“After Brexit, farmers in ROI will continue to benefit from robust support from the EU. Putting us at a significant competitive disadvantage at a time when we are already facing considerable upheaval in our supply chain with additional trade barriers including tariffs, additional checks, bureaucracy, and delays,” he said.