It’s inevitable that UK agricultural commodity prices will move closer to world levels post-Brexit, according to AFBI’s (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute’s) Professor John Davis.

“It will then be up to the politicians in London to decide what level of farm subsidies will be available to agriculture, once Brexit takes effect. This will be a balancing act between that of backing producers on the one hand or supporting consumers with a cheap food policy on the other.”

Davis was speaking at the recent AFBI Stakeholder Conference.

He said it is highly unlikely that the United Kingdom and the EU-27 will have the opportunity to finalise a free-trade deal prior to Brexit taking effect at the end of March 2019.

“Northern Ireland will face unique challenges from a trading point of view on the island of Ireland. Traditionally, large numbers of sheep travel south for processing each year with pigs moving in the opposite direction,” he added.

“Very significant volumes of milk produced in Northern Ireland are transported south for processing in the Republic for processing on a daily basis. The question arising post-Brexit is: Can this milk be processed locally?”

AFBI Chairman Colm McKenna said that its staff are currently working on economic models to predict the possible impact of Brexit on UK agriculture as a whole.

“We will also be replicating this work specifically for Northern Ireland. The figures generated will be made public over the coming weeks.

McKenna admitted that Northern Ireland will be treated as a special case in the context of the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

“Everyone accepts this reality,” he said.

AFBI will play its part in making sure that the strongest possible case can be made for Northern Ireland in the discussions.”

Meanwhile, the Ulster Farmers’ Union has confirmed that it will publish a Brexit strategy document over the coming weeks.

“Our plan is to go public with our priorities at the beginning of May,” said union Deputy President Victor Chestnutt.

“These will reflect the needs of the entire farming industry, where Brexit is concerned.”