UFU call for NI agri task force to address impact of Russian invasion in Ukraine
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is calling for government and in particular the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), to put contingency plans in place and establish a Northern Ireland (NI) agriculture task force to address the impact that Russia’s invasion in Ukraine is having on global supplies.
UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “The world has been watching in horror as Russia’s inhumane attack on Ukraine continues, The impact of which is now rippling worldwide with global supply chains already in a highly vulnerable state. Many countries around the world, including NI, are reliant on Ukraine’s agricultural produce as well as Russia’s food and gas supplies.
“Input costs have jumped to eyewatering levels over the last number of days and are continuing to skyrocket, in particular, the price of energy and fertiliser. Farmers are in a horrendous position as they’re already trying to manage severe financial pressures, and this is now creating an increasingly difficult situation already.
“Input costs for farmers have risen to such unprecedented levels that the main worry now for consumers is not price, but availability. A rise in grain prices or a significant drop in production is certain to have huge knock-on effects for food consumers.
“Unavoidable impacts on distribution and supply will surely stretch availability to breaking point, let alone affordability. Food, fuel and fertiliser are inseparably linked and if some didn’t realise that before, they will now in the worst possible way.
“We need government and DAERA to act now to address this urgent situation. They need to put contingency plans in place and set up a task force for NI agriculture, and it’s critical that any plan is accompanied by government action to support our farmers.
“The government needs to focus their efforts on rocketing costs and availability of outputs as these are the biggest issues facing our members right now. Government also needs to look at some of their own regulations.
“To move forward and address the situation, it would be very unwise of government to make any decisions prior to full engagement with farmers’ representatives. It’s really important that we work together and I’ve no doubt that farmers across the country, as they’ve always done at times of challenge in the past, will step up in responding to that.”