Potato and vegetable industries raise concerns over 2015 land availability

Wednesday, 26 March, 2014

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has hosted a meeting for growers from Northern Ireland’s potato and vegetable industries with senior officials from the Department of Agriculture (DARD) to discuss concerns over the availability of conacre land in 2015.  Over 50 growers, packers and processors attended the meeting held at UFU headquarters.

UFU Policy Director Wesley Aston said; “For weeks now we have been taking calls from concerned potato and vegetable growers who are finding it incredibly difficult to secure conacre land for 2015. The meeting was an opportunity to put these concerns to DARD and the large turn-out only goes to show how significant an issue this is. Farmers across Northern Ireland are trying to plan for the future of their businesses at a time when there is still much to be decided in relation to the implementation of the reformed CAP, which is not at all easy and they are having to make decisions based on incomplete information. As a result, land may be taken out of the conacre system and even if it is just for one year it will have a major detrimental impact on Northern Ireland’s potato and vegetable industries.  The bottom line for many growers is that if they are not able to secure land in 2015, the future viability of their businesses will be in serious jeopardy.

“I believe DARD has gone away from this meeting with a very clear understanding of how crucial this issue is.  We will continue to discuss this matter with them in an effort to obtain a practical solution that suits both the grower and landowner.  The UFU is also in the process of arranging a meeting with the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) to discuss how this serious issue is being handled in the Republic of Ireland.”