UFU asks Dairy Council to clarify position on NI Protocol
The Ulster Farmers’ Union has said a “united front” is needed to highlight and achieve solutions on four key areas regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The UFU’s dairy committee has written to Dr Mike Johnston, chief executive of the Dairy Council Northern Ireland (DCNI) asking for support in finding a resolution.
The four key areas of concern are veterinary medicines, cattle movements, plant protection products (PPP) and farm machinery. The UFU has said they will continue to lobby government officials, but stressed that a united front is needed to highlight and achieve solutions for the benefit of local dairy farms.
Following a recent UFU dairy committee meeting, its chair Kenny Hawkes said they had raised concerns about Dr Johnston’s “lack of recognition” of the four major issues created by the Protocol.
“While the NI Protocol has provided practical benefits for the local dairy industry, demonstrated by the fact that 800 million litres of milk continues to flow over the border per day, the challenges it has also created cannot be dismissed and must be addressed urgently,” said Mr Hawkes.
“As it stands with the extended grace period for medicines coming to an end on 31st December, all veterinary products used in the EU, including Northern Ireland (NI), must be licensed in the EU. Farmers are growing increasingly anxious at the lack of movement to address this issue because without a solution, this could see UK veterinary medicines destined for NI, having to be re-licensed for NI and some companies may deem this as not cost effective given the limited size of the market in NI.
“This means a large range of everyday veterinary products would be affected, including anthelmintics, anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamins and vaccines, impacting the health and welfare of livestock which is of the upmost importance to dairy farmers.”
Mr Hawkes said cattle movements was another major issue for their farmers.
“Since January 2020, unreasonable restrictions were put in place when exporting livestock from Great Britain (GB) to NI. Many of our farmers would have sold pedigree bulls into GB but the restrictions have brought this to an end and has also affected the importation of dairy heifers.
“EU sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules continue to apply in NI under the NI Protocol. This means that since 1st January 2021, all regulated PPPs including seeds moving from GB to NI, are required to meet the EU’s third country import requirements. The danger is that whilst according to the EU NI producers could source PPP from the Republic of Ireland, they may end up using a product which is not permitted in NI/GB.
“Moving secondhand machinery between GB and NI is also being affected by the NI Protocol because all machines must be free of soil and other potential contaminants for entry into NI.
“We ask Dr Johnston to acknowledge the wider implications of the NI Protocol that will have potentially devastating consequences for local dairy farmers if they go unresolved, and for his support as the UFU continue to lobby to addresses the difficulties.”