How could the Brexit vote affect farming and food in Northern Ireland?

The agri-food sector is a significant one for the economy and employment in Northern Ireland. For a number of reasons, the implications of the vote to leave the EU are difficult to gauge at this stage, but this article attempts to sketch out some of the potential impacts.

Image of a milk tanker travelling down a country road (image by Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons)
A milk tanker travelling down a country road; significant quantities of milk are exported from Northern Ireland south of the border for processing (image by Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons).

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A new mandate, a new Environment

The merging of environment and agriculture
The merging of environment and agriculture

Local government underwent significant structural change in 2015 with the number of councils reducing from 26 to 11, and the transfer of many functions from central to local government. This has brought changes to the ways in which the environment is managed. In 2016, these changes have continued with a reorganisation of Executive functions.

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Are current farm incomes sustainable?

Average Farm Business Income (FBI) for selected sectors, 2010/11 to 2015/16 forecast
Average Farm Business Income (FBI) for selected sectors, 2010/11 to 2015/16 forecast

Farm incomes over the last five years in Northern Ireland have shown considerable volatility and this presents challenges for the long- term sustainability of the industry, both within and beyond the new Assembly mandate.

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