Brexit looms over Balmoral this year and there’s fear among farmers: Anderson

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It’s neither bullocks, barley nor butter, but Brexit, that’s most exercising farmers at this year’s Balmoral Show, according to Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson.

The Derry republican, who visited the show on Wednesday, said she sensed a genuine fear among the North’s farming community over what the immediate future holds for the local agri-food sector.

Ms. Anderson said farmers should get behind the campaign for the North to have designated status within the EU as the only credible alternative to Brexit.

She said: “I have met with many farmers and others involved in the agriculture industry at the Balmoral Show today and Brexit is the main issue on their minds.

“There is a genuine fear among many farmers and others in the agri-sector about Tory plans to drag us out of the EU.

“EU funding has helped farmers modernise, diversify and be competitive in the marketplace and that will be lost if Theresa May gets her way.

“EU regulations have also ensured we have the highest standards of food safety and, as a result, the excellent produce from the north is highly valued across Europe. That reputation could be jeopardised by unregulated imports coming in from outside the EU.”

Ms. Anderson said special status for the North could save the local farming industry from damaging tariffs and new post-Brexit red-tape nightmares.

“I made it clear to farmers at the Balmoral Show that there is a credible alternative to Brexit and that is for the north to have designated special status within the EU.

“Sinn Féin has been building support for that case and we now need to see the Irish government acting in the interests of all Irish citizens, including those involved in the agriculture industry in the North, by making it a formal demand in the negotiations.”