EU Commissioner Phil Hogan delivers positive message at UFU dinner

Friday, 27 March, 2015

The Ulster Farmers’ Union is delighted to have welcomed EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to Northern Ireland as the keynote speaker at its annual dinner, held at the Canal Court Hotel in Newry on 27th March.

UFU President Ian Marshall said: “This is Commissioner Hogan’s first time visiting Northern Ireland since he was appointed as the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and as the CAP implementation process here continues to limp along, his appearance is very timely. The reformed CAP is posing a number of practical issues on the ground and the Union has been pressing DARD for speedy, satisfactory resolutions.”

Speaking to a capacity audience, EU Commission Phil Hogan highlighted the importance of a Rural Development Programme focused on the farming sector backed up by new financial instruments from the European Investment Bank.  The Commissioner said: “Just this week I announced a new financial package from the European Investment Bank to help drive investment in the farm sector which would create more agri-food jobs and secure a profitable future for farmers.”

The Commissioner recognised the significant role in which the agri-food sector plays in the Northern Ireland economy and said EU funding will continue to play a key role in driving the dynamism of Northern Irish Agriculture not just on farm but beyond the farm gate in the rural economy as a whole. The Commissioner also committed to adopting a pragmatic approach in dealing with simplification of the reformed CAP.  He continued: “I have already launched a comprehensive screening exercise of the entire CAP and I will listen closely to the farmers of Northern Ireland and of Europe, including the helpful submission from the UFU which I have already received.” 

Ian Marshall concluded: “The Commissioner’s plans to simplify the CAP is welcome news to farmers and something the UFU whole-heartedly supports, especially as our current experience of implementing the new CAP has been less than smooth. We have always had concerns about how overly complicated the whole package is. At the time of its development we worked hard to see it simplified, and while we were successful to some extent, there is still much that could be done to make it more practical and farmer friendly, while still satisfying EU requirements.”

The UFU was also delighted to welcome Agricultural Attaché for the U.S Embassy Stan Phillips to the dinner, especially as preparations are already underway for the prestigious North America and European Union Agricultural Congress, which is being held in Northern Ireland in October 2015.