Upper Bann Ulster Unionist Assembly Candidate and Donaghcloney farmer Kyle Savage has spoken of his concern and challenged comments made by the Chair of the Agri-Food Strategy Board Tony O’Neill on Good Morning Ulster this week, following the production of a report on the Board’s progress to date.
Mr Savage said: “Earlier this week Tony O’Neill was waxing lyrical about the success of the ‘Going For Growth’ Strategy to date, however as he rightly acknowledged the AFSB Report only reflects the 2013-14 period. It is regrettable that he chooses to spin the figures especially in light of the fact that according to a report by the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee there were 275 fewer farms in 2014-15 than the previous year - that doesn’t speak of growth to me!
“There needs to be a realisation across government that whilst I welcome the good intentions of the Going for growth Strategy, the reality on the ground is much different - farmers across the country are deep in despair, struggling to make a living with falling farm gate prices not covering the basic essentials of feed, fertiliser and fuel.
“We are dealing with the most basic economics here - supply and demand. The key is meeting demand, not overproduction such as what we currently see in the dairy industry - overproduction only serves to push prices downwards. Until there is a joined-up strategy to address the ‘flooding’ of the market, the producers across Northern Ireland don’t stand a chance. We need to see a fair share of profit throughout the food chain.
“If elected to Stormont, I will champion the rights of the producer to a fair price, pushing for the creation of a ‘fair price regulator’ which I believe is necessary in order to protect the viable future of the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland.”
The progress report titled ‘Delivering Growth’ sets out the progress that has been made against 118 recommendations.