The UK will seek to introduce fundamental agricultural policy reforms, post-Brexit, according to Conservative Party Peer Lord Daniel Finkelstein.

“But this will take place over a 10-year period,” he said.

“The UK government is very aware of the role played by EU support measures in funding agriculture. And, given this backdrop, the decision has already been made to provide a sufficiently-long transition period, regarding the introduction of new policy measures.”

Finkelstein spoke at a recent dinner hosted by the financial services company Deloitte for leading representatives of Northern Ireland’s agri-food sectors.

He said that he had strongly encouraged the holding of the Brexit referendum.

“I was also a strong supporter of the United Kingdom remaining in Europe,” he said.

Finkelstein characterised the UK’s intention to introduce a Great Repeal Bill, regarding the role played by all current EU legislation within the UK.

He added:

There is no way the UK can instantly change the detail of each and every EU statute. This means that Britain’s commercial sectors will, in essence, be subject to EU standards for many years to come.

Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) General Secretary Michael Bell also spoke at the dinner. He said that farming and food in Northern Ireland can look forward to a sustainable future.

“The world’s population continues to increase. And, as a consequence, demand for food is growing at a comparable rate,” he said.

“All of this is good news for farming and food in Northern Ireland. Where Brexit is concerned, the UK is far from self-sufficient in dairy, red-meat and pork.

“In principle, this situation represents a unique opportunity for food businesses in Northern Ireland to extend their footprint across the UK market as a whole.

“But all of this envisaged growth must be achieved on the back of sustainable prices for farmers.”