UFU Executive requests meetings with NI Agriculture Minister and Assembly’s Agriculture Committee

Friday, 31 January, 2014

The Ulster Farmers' Union Executive has held its first meeting of 2014 and has reaffirmed its strong support of the CAP implementation position it reached in December last year. The Union has also requested meetings with the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill and the NI Assembly’s Agriculture Committee to discuss its proposals in more detail.

UFU President Harry Sinclair said; "The Executive's agreed position on CAP implementation has come under scrutiny in recent weeks but at the meeting this week the Executive reaffirmed its agreement on this position. Our guiding principle has always been to secure support for productive agriculture and after a robust and practical process, where the grass root members of our committees spent months poring over DARD’s CAP implementation proposals, the UFU Executive reached an agreement on proposals that would do just that. Now that DARD’s consultation has closed, we are hoping that decisions on CAP implementation will be taken sooner rather than later but these must be based on how best to support productive agriculture, not just what is easy. This is the message we want the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill and the NI Assembly’s Agriculture Committee to understand fully and we have requested meetings with both so we can outline our position in more detail.”
At the meeting, the UFU Executive welcomed DARD's long awaited clarification on the definition of an 'active farmer' under the new CAP.
Harry Sinclair continued; "We have been pushing DARD to issue clarification on what constitutes an active farmer since the delegated acts were voted through by the EU's Agriculture Council in December 2013 and we are pleased that this has finally come. The guidance and the Q&A are a good starting point but some questions still remain unanswered, although we recognise that it is difficult for DARD to address the active farmer issue fully until the Delegated Acts are officially adopted. Regardless, the Union is encouraging all farmers and landowners to waste no time in discussing their conacre arrangements. It is not long until the 2nd April deadline for transferring entitlements which is one of the major options and ensuring that the money currently available on a particular parcel of land is secured going forward is in the interest of both farmer and landowner.”