UFU comment on Northern Ireland share of EU support funding

Friday, 25 September, 2015

The Ulster Farmers Union has said that while Northern Ireland will receive £5.1 million of the £26.2 million overall direct aid package allocated to the UK, the amount allocated per dairy farmer will have little or no impact when set against the losses being made on dairy farms across Northern Ireland.

“The vast majority of dairy farmers are suffering financial difficulties.  Even though we successfully lobbied for an additional share of the funding because of the difficulties here, the amount coming to Northern Ireland will not aid financial recovery.  Nor will it help the wider industry through what will be one of the toughest winters in living memory for farming families,” said UFU president Ian Marshall.

He added that while it was encouraging the government at Westminster had recognised Northern Ireland's unique problems because of low milk prices other sectors had been ignored.  “The wider farming industry remains disappointed that the difficulties they are experiencing have been largely ignored by both DEFRA and the European Union,” said Mr Marshall. This reflects warnings from the UFU that the approach of both Brussels and London is divisive between different enterprises, because it seeks to create a pyramid of farmer hardship.

The UFU recognise there is no single solution to solving the problems facing the industry, but maintains that the Commission needs to deliver something more meaningful to help the industry get back on its feet. For dairy farmers, the UFU will continue to push for a review of intervention prices along with its EU colleagues.  “For the wider industry, the UFU will continue to work closely with the other UK farming unions and with supermarkets to look at ways of bringing greater fairness and transparency to the supply chain and to ensure farmers across all sectors receive a fairer share of the price consumers pay for food,” said Mr Marshall. 

At a local level he said the farm minister, Michelle O'Neill and her DARD officials needed to pay this additional money out quickly and also ensure that every effort is made to improve on the 93 per cent of the CAP's basic scheme payments that were made in full last December. “This has been a hard year for farmers which is going to get worse over the coming months.  Against that background they cannot afford to have any delay to their direct CAP payments”, he said.