During a visit to Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon George Eustice MP and Lord Frost were shown around the region’s largest agri-food event by DAERA Minister Edwin Poots, viewing NI prized cattle, high quality food produce and Government exhibitions.
Speaking after the visit, Minister Poots said: “Today, I have proudly shown George Eustice and Lord Frost the very best of Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector, outlined its contribution to our economy, our employment levels and our health and well-being. Mr Eustice is now under no illusion as to the importance of this sector to NI and the passion and dedication of all those who work within it.
“I took the opportunity during our tour, to once again stress the difficulties the NI Protocol is having on this prized industry and just how unworkable on the ground it really is. The friction-free movement of goods and animals between GB and NI is one of the corner stones of our economy and the current requirements of the NI Protocol place an unnecessary burden on the agri-food sector. This must change if our agri-food industry is to be able to trade on a level playing field.
“I am urging Mr Eustice, Lord Frost and the European Union to find pragmatic, long-term and permanent solutions to the NI Protocol, which is unworkable in its current form. Retailers, businesses, the food sector and the general public have all raised concerns about it from the beginning and their concerns must be addressed.”
“Furthermore, I highlighted the risk of not delivering an urgent solution to our labour issues. I have written to the PM and Home Secretary to raise this issue. Farmers, especially in the pork sector, need urgent clarity. There is a need for Government to give food and energy supply security a greater priority, especially given the global turmoil in energy markets and access to goods.
“Given that we are at the Balmoral Show, and the huge role livestock breeding plays in our industry, I raised the issue of the barriers that the Protocol has placed on the movement of breeding animals across the UK.”