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Brexit: Local Impact

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Enterprise, Trade and Investment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:00 pm on 10th November 2015.

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Photo of Jonathan Bell Jonathan Bell DUP 2:00 pm, 10th November 2015

I have met a number of farming groups on a range of issues. We have to look, for example, towards the common agricultural policy, but we also need expert opinion on what would be available to Northern Ireland farmers if we were not paying money into the European Union. What scenarios could there be? I understand that the agrifood sector is a key beneficiary of EU membership as a trading partner and as the result of direct funding from the sector. I also acknowledge that we exported over £1·1 billion in sales to the European Union, although the exact impact on those sales, according to research, depends on the terms that the UK Government would negotiate with the European Union on the movement of goods and services.

The UK, including Northern Ireland, would face a departure from the common agricultural policy and its related subsidies and regulations. I know that many local farmers rely on the single farm payment in order to be viable, but we also need to look at the money that would be available for them were we to be out.