Northern Ireland

Brexit: Government 'will support agriculture in no-deal'

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Media captionGovernment "will support agriculture if no-deal Brexit happens"

The government is prepared to support the agricultural sector if needed in a no-deal Brexit, a cabinet minister has said.

Defra secretary Theresa Villiers met representatives of NI's agri-food industry in Belfast on Wednesday.

Her comments follow stark warnings from the industry about the potential impact of a no-deal.

She said she had heard the "doomsday" prediction from the dairy sector.

Ms Villiers, a former Northern Ireland secretary, said the government was prepared to support it and other sectors if it were needed.

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU), meat and dairy processors and environmentalists were all at the two hour meeting.

'Life support'

Dr Mike Johnston of Dairy Council NI, who issued this week's stark warning on the future of the industry in the event of no-deal, said Ms Villiers had been left in no doubt of the necessity of a workable Brexit compromise.

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt said if a no-deal happened farming would need "life support".

Ms Villiers said the government was determined to "make Brexit work for farmers".

She said she believed a deal was still possible and the EU had engaged "positively" with the recent government proposals.

Asked if an extension was the most likely outcome by the end of October, Ms Villiers said the UK needed to "get on with" Brexit.

"The country voted to leave, we can't keep kicking the can down the road," she said.