Friday 26 October 2012
Meeting the Farm Minister
SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie met with UK Farming Minister David Heath to discuss the dairy industry, the Groceries Code Adjudicator and reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Speaking following the meeting MS Ritchie said: “The meeting was very productive and the minister was clearly aware of many of the current problems faced by our local farmers and those across the agriculture industry.
“He was in complete agreement with me that there must be transition period for any CAP reform and that this period should be as long as possible to enable income levels to be sustained, stating a possible 18 month timeframe.
“It is also critical that existing Single Farm Payments, which so many are dependent on in the North of Ireland, are processed as efficiently as possible.
This is particularly important as farmers are facing some of the most challenging conditions in recent history after one of the wettest summers on record and with the drought across North America and Russia forcing up feed prices.
“I also sought assurance that the Groceries Code Adjudicator would have the power to effectively regulate the food supply chain and the relationship between supermarkets and food producers.
In parallel with this I would urge Minister O’Neill to do more to encourage a voluntary code of practice, as is the case in England, to govern the relationship between dairy producers, processors and supermarkets.
“It is absolutely critical for there to be a good working relationship within the industry and between the industry and the consumer, to ensure a fair deal for all in what is an extremely challenging economic climate.”
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