UFU not anticipating no-deal Brexit dairy cow cull

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has said it is not anticipating a cull of dairy cattle in Northern Ireland following a no-deal Brexit.

The comments were made after the BBC reported that 45,000 dairy cattle would be at risk of a cull in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said: “A ‘no-deal’ Brexit will be catastrophic for NI farming. Steep export tariffs, a 0% tariff on agriculture goods coming from the Republic of Ireland, increased checks and regulations will all cause huge disruption and a logistical nightmare for family-run farm businesses.

“We are working hard to find ways to mitigate the potential damage of a no-deal. Reciprocal tariffs and deficiency payments to farms’ businesses, to help address farm gate price collapse, are starting points and at the moment, the most reasonable options.

“However, we continue to actively lobby politicians and the government so they understand the seriousness of a no-deal situation and the importance of avoiding it.

At this point in time, we are not even talking about a large cull of animals and we don’t anticipate that we will get to this point.

“In the event of a no-deal, the dairy industry will find ways to cope if there is a surplus of milk, although it’s not likely to be straightforward and we would expect disruption.

“Possibly there is capacity in our local processing sector to absorb any extra milk or we may be able to send it to GB. There will be other options and it is irresponsible to jump straight to culling cows as a solution.”

The UFU stressed the continued uncertainty around Brexit and the ‘will there or won’t there be a deal’ isn’t helping farmers or their businesses.

“The culling of dairy cows is speculation and a result of ongoing Brexit uncertainty. The UFU has always argued that the UK must leave the EU in an orderly way, which will provide certainty and allow farmers to plan for their businesses accordingly,” said the UFU president.