UFU: Criticism of our Brexit position was ‘unjust and unacceptable’

Ulster Farmers' Union president Ivor Ferguson. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Ulster Farmers' Union president Ivor Ferguson. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
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The Ulster Farmers’ Union has responded to what it believes was unjust criticism of its Brexit position following an opinion piece written by Ben Lowry in last Saturday’s (October 12) News Letter (see link below).

UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said: “I am angry the Ulster Farmers’ Union has again been singled out for unjust criticism. It is unacceptable to blame a non-political organisation for political decisions. Deflection is a classic strategy. Newspapers fall for this when they seek to draw the UFU into wider political issues. Claims to have uncovered conspiracies involving the UFU are just plain wrong. We are all aware of the consequences of political failure, but not only are we not the cause, we are not even a remote part of the equation.

“Our interests are firmly focused on what is best for the future of farming families. We have no control over how others choose to use our position for their ends. Not to have spoken out about a no-deal outcome and the catastrophic impact it would have on family farm businesses would have been a huge disservice to our members.”

Mr Ferguson continued: “Brexit was never going to be easy. Unpicking the UK’s 40 plus years relationship with the EU is a huge challenge. It demands compromise from both the UK and EU. Despite claims by some that are wholly wrong, we have always called for a solution that allows farmers here unfettered access to the GB market, while maintaining long-standing trading relationships between NI and ROI.

“We represent 11,500 farming families with diverse views and political affiliations. It is unrealistic to expect our members to agree on everything. Brexit is a contentious issue, and people’s view are not based solely on whether or not the EU delivers for farming.

“We were clear from the outset that we would not tell our members how to vote. But we also said we did not see a compelling argument that farming would fare better outside the EU. We have robust, logical, democratic processes to establish positions on issues, and Brexit has been extensively debated through those processes.

“Since the referendum result our single goal has been to

secure the best possible Brexit deal for agriculture. That should also be the goal of our politicians.”

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