Developments in Ukraine prompts meeting to discuss food supply

Date published: 16 March 2022


Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has written to Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the ongoing Ukraine crisis on Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry.

The Minister said: “I have said before that here in Northern Ireland, one of most valuable assets is our agri-food industry and as well as providing employment, it contributes over £5 billion to the Northern Ireland economy.

“Given recent developments in Ukraine, I have written to the Rt Hon George Eustice, MP to reiterate to him the enormous pressure the agri-food industry is experiencing with regards to supply chain issues.

“Sectors along the entire the food supply chain in Northern Ireland have contacted me highlighting serious concerns over the unprecedented rise in input costs, the lack availability of fertilizer and maize and the rising fuel costs as prime examples. Compounding this, we are still dealing with the labour shortage crisis, especially in the pork sector.”

In the letter, Minister Poots asked Mr Eustice to consider a range of measures to alleviate pressures including ensuring inputs for agriculture production (primary and processing) are prioritised as far as possible, a reduction in excise duty, exploring a limited suspension of the road transport fuel obligation and urgent engagement with the supermarkets to ensure UK farmers are supported through this crisis. 

The Minister continued: “I also stressed to Mr Eustice that the ability to grow food in Northern Ireland is being impeded by the inability to import soil based seeds from other Regions of the UK and I would welcome a relaxing of current restrictions to allow the free movement of these goods.”

The Minister has asked Mr Eustice to meet with him to discuss his concerns and to discuss potential mitigations to support the continued movement of agri-food goods in Northern Ireland.

The Minster concluded: “My Department continues to support the promotion of our quality local food through the Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme and supports co-operation initiatives between local producers through the Agri-food Cooperation Scheme.

“Everyone of us can play our part in helping alleviate pressure on the agri-food industry and this can simply be done by reducing our food waste.  We all buy too much food at times, some of which will end up in the recycling.  So by reducing the amount of food we waste we can all contribute and help the planet at the same time.”

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