The Ulster Farmers’ Union has elected County Down farmer Graham Furey as its new president, replacing Kenneth Sharkey who has completed his two year term.

Following his appointment, Mr Furey said that rising costs of production – particularly feed, fertiliser and fuel – were now a huge challenge for the farming sector.

“Farmers have to be profitable to stay in business and produce local fresh food for consumers,” he said. “This means that farmgate prices will have to rise to cover rising costs.

“The WTO talks must not be used as a mechanism to flood the EU market with cheap food imports. Lower prices will mean less food, and that would make no sense at a time when global food shortages are now a reality.

“It’s in the national interest to ensure a viable local food production industry is maintained”.

Representation

Graham Furey said the UFU’s new leadership team would work to strongly represent local agriculture in Northern Ireland, the UK and Europe. He said the UFU would also be working closely with younger farmers to encourage their involvement in the organisation and in the industry.

“Many young people have left the farming industry to pursue other careers. We will encourage young people to consider a career in agriculture. There are potentially very exciting opportunities in the industry for food and energy production.”

Mr Furey was elected to the position by the organisation’s members at the UFU annual meeting, held this week at the Greenmount Campus, Antrim.

The newly-elected UFU deputy president’s are Ballymoney farmer John Thompson and Draperstown producer Harry Sinclair.