Unionist farming figure says DUP stance on Irish Sea border should be supported as 'divergence' between Northern Ireland and Great Britain comes into clearer view
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David Campbell, who sits on the board of the NI Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, was speaking after the UFU made a presentation to Parliament this week, giving case studies of “divergence” between the rules governing Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a result of Brexit.
On Wednesday, UFU spokesman Alexander Kinnear had been summoned to speak about the impact of Brexit on Northern Irish farmers.
One of the problems he described concerned the use of glyphosate – a chemical used to kill weeds and to "desiccate" crops (dry them in readiness for harvest).
The EU is phasing out their usage for that purpose, something which the UFU says is expected to affect Northern Ireland but not Great Britain, since the latter is now out from under EU rules whilst the former is still guided by them.
As of December 15, a mere three weeks away, the chemical will no longer be approved by the EU for this use, so if Northern Ireland farmers want to keep using it the UK must urgently seek a derogation from the EU, says the UFU.
Mr Campbell, a UFU member who runs a 250-acre dairy, beef, and sheep farm in east Co Antrim (and is also the chairman of the Loyalist Communities Council), said that he supports efforts to find alternatives to glyphosate because of “serious concerns” about their potential impact on health.
"In the short term, however, it is important that NI producers are not disadvantaged over the disparity in usage of chemicals be they herbicides or feed additives which leads to financial disadvantage,” he said.
"Many of those who initially acted as cheerleaders for the NI Protocol and then the Windsor frameworks are now seeing how their own sectors are negatively impacted by the continued application of EU regulations when their counterparts in other regions of the UK are not so disadvantaged.
"This is further proof as to why the DUP should be supported in their efforts to revise the Protocol and restore parity amongst all regions of the United Kingdom.”
Another disparity raised by Mr Kinnear on Wednesday was that the EU is planning on restoring a regulation, suspended following the invasion of Ukraine, stating that hens in this sector must be fed with 100% organic feed while farmers in Great Britain will continue to be allowed to use 95% organic feed.
These are just some of the latest outworkings of the Windsor Framework / NI Protocol to have raised alarm bells in recent weeks.
Last month, the News Letter reported on how EU regulations appear to mean that if someone buys a pack of British sausages from a Newry supermarket, then eats them at a picnic in Dundalk, they will have breached EU rules.
That is because the wording of the regulations doesn’t just ban the "sale" of GB meat and dairy goods purchased in Northern Ireland in the Republic of Ireland, but bans their "movement" across the border altogether.
The News Letter repeatedly asked the EU and UK government how this could possibly be enforced, but neither did so.