Farmers need help
ULSTER Unionist agriculture spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson has said there is a real danger that “we reap a harvest of devastation for farming” if urgent action is not taken to support the industry.
Speaking during the debate on the crisis in the farming crisis, Mrs Dobson (pictured) demanded action from the Sinn Fein DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill.
The MLA for Upper Bann said: “Farmers have recently been expressing their anger at low farm gate prices, especially for milk, pork and beef and the UFU have held a series of crisis meetings which representatives from across the political parties have attended.
“The UFU are absolutely right to stand up for the clear and present danger which threatens the long term future of this industry.
As a farmer myself I know that farming is more than just a job, it is a way of life. The twelve hour days feeding the animals, the 6am milking, the constant physically demanding and now more than ever mentally demanding job of a farmer is not known by the wider public.
“However, this work is being carried out on farms across Northern Ireland every single day, and it is work which the Minister of Agriculture has a moral duty to ensure delivers a fair profit, in the best interests of farmers the entire agricultural industry.
“Whilst the Farmers Union have welcomed the political willingness of representatives to attend their crisis meetings, farmers need results and are rightly calling for political action.
It is critically important that they see not just a willingness to attend meetings, but also a willingness to act.
“The minister recently decided to keep the Agricultural Wages Board in place even though this is an obsolete body, given that we have had a national minimum wage in place since 1999.”
In conclusion Mrs Dobson said: “The announcement of approximately £15 million of what the minister has claimed to be ‘new money in the farmer’s pockets,’ is in itself farcical.
This is money which the minister has decided not to take out of farmers’ Single Farm Payments for next year in the form of modulation, something which she openly admitted last week, by reducing the scope of the NICMS, that she is unable to manage anyway.
“Farmers know the truth when it comes to money and they will not allow themselves to be short-changed in this way.
The extra money will be welcome, but it must be remembered that it is theirs in the first place.”
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