British government has attempted to reassure Northern Ireland’s farmers about the level of subsidies they will receive after the UK leaves the European Union. Michael Gove, secretary for the environment, food and rural affairs, visited an agricultural show in Co Antrim at the weekend and also held meetings with the DUP and the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
“Northern Ireland and upland areas of Scotland, Wales and England will receive support in future to ensure communities there can survive,” Mr. Gove later told the BBC.
Northern Ireland makes up 3% of the UK population but currently receives almost 10% of its European Union farm subsidies. Mr Gove has said post-Brexit subsidies will have to be earned rather than being handed out and that farmers must prove they are committed to environmental issues.
His visit to Northern Ireland was brought to public attention by a DUP-branded video posted on Twitter by South Antrim MP Paul Girvan.
Sinn Féin national chairman and South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney claimed Mr. Gove had cancelled a scheduled meeting with his party “without prior notice at the very last minute”.
“The Tory deal with the DUP is making it more difficult to reach a resolution to the current political difficulties in the North,” he said.
The Environment, food and rural department then issued the following statement, attributed to Mr. Gove: “We all care about where the food on our dinner plates has come from and its journey from farm to fork”.
Mr Girvan said Mr Gove’s visit highlighted the fact that the DUP was working to deliver an agriculture policy “which delivers for farmers, rural areas and the wider economy in particular”.
“We have demonstrated to government that we take agriculture seriously which can be seen in the commitment to funding for direct support in the supply and confidence deal,” he underlined.