Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has expressed concern following the announcement of a UK/Australian Free Trade Agreement.
A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has been finalised in board terms, with the final Agreement in Principle to be published in the coming days.
Speaking of the deal, Minister Poots said: “I note the announcement on a Free Trade Agreement with Australia and I am urgently seeking further detail on the terms agreed. I have been clear in my discussions with UK Ministers that tariff free access to the UK market for Australian farm produce is a very serious threat to our farmers even if that access is phased in over a number of years. It is absolutely vital that Northern Ireland’s agriculture sector is protected and the integrity of our food standards are maintained.
“Consumers rightly expect high welfare standards and high quality food - that means that all imports must meet our standards. That is what they will get with locally produced and reared food.
“I am very disappointed that there has not been greater involvement of Devolved Authorities in the negotiations and this is something that needs to change in the future, given that this deal has the potential to have a significant impact on agriculture, which is a devolved matter."