Farmers still face struggles but latest industry figures encouraging

Friday, 1 August, 2014

Ulster Farmers’ Union president Ian Marshall has said that while DARD’s recently released processing industry figures are encouraging, farmers still continue to face a number of challenges and that on farm profitability remains a serious concern.

Ian Marshall said; “There has been continued growth in our food and drinks processing sector, which is good news on the whole and reaffirms the agri-food industry’s important contribution of the wider Northern Ireland economy. However, we cannot lose sight of the reality facing farmers on the ground. The growth in the agri-food industry will be of little comfort to those primary producers who are struggling to make a living as their profit margins are squeezed. Beef farmers in particular are finding their backs against the wall as the price of beef remain at an unsustainable level and processors and retailers tighten market specifications. The reform of the Common Agriculture Policy and a move to single region, flat-rate payment means that many farmers will be seeing a considerable reduction in their Single Farm Payment over the coming years and they will ultimately need to see a better return from the market in order to stay in business. If the market does not start to deliver then the local high quality, safe and traceable raw materials that our processing industry need simply won’t be available which will have consequences for the entire agri-food industry.

“However, the fact that the wider agri-food industry continues to grow shows there are opportunities and the NI Agri-Food Strategy Board’s ‘Going for Growth’ report outlines a detailed plan to capitalise on these. Also, the NI Executive has demonstrated that it believes in the future of NI agri-food industry with its recent commitment to allocate up to an additional £250million of funding to support future growth in the agri-food sector via the 2014-2020 NI Rural Development Programme.”