MLAs on the Stormont Agriculture committee are to discuss in private session a proposed Farm Welfare Bill brought forward by Farmers For Action (FFA) in NI.

The bill, which was drafted in 2020, would put in place legislation ensuring farmers receive a minimum cost of production, inflation linked, plus a margin, for all their produce.

Last Tuesday, committee members, along with chair, Tom Elliott, hosted FFA at Stormont, where the case was again made for the legislation.

The event heard from economist Paul Gosling, who was commissioned by FFA to produce a report on the financial crisis facing NI farmers.

The Gosling analysis highlights the “dysfunctional market” in food production, with processors and retailers getting into ever stronger bargaining positions.

“It is difficult to see a way forward that safeguards farmers and farming communities – other than the protection of farmgate prices,” notes the report.


As part of their discussion on the proposed Farm Welfare Bill, the Stormont Agriculture committee is also to seek advice from the Assembly’s Research and Information Service.

That work has already been done, with Assembly researchers providing a 19-page report on the proposed bill back in 2021.

The analysis raised a lot of questions, including whether the legislation would be compliant with UK competition law and if it would have an adverse impact on the operation of the UK single market for goods.

The researchers went on to highlight the lack of data around potential costs associated with implementing the bill and the lack of public consultation and stakeholder engagement.

They also questioned where NI farmers would be able to sell their products if the minimum farmgate prices set in NI were higher than those elsewhere.