Farmers For Action (FFA), Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA) and others connected to Northern Ireland farm groups have been working on the idea of legislation on farm gate prices for Northern Ireland for some time.
This would give farmers across the staples a minimum of the cost of production plus an inflation-linked margin for their produce and put in place the financial safety net that Brussels owes farmers across Europe according to its constitution yet continually fails to deliver on.
A spokesperson for FFA said: “This legislation must be put in place in 2016 if Northern Ireland’s largest industry is to be saved. Never before in our lifetime have the economics of farming for the majority been so grim, therefore threatening jobs across Northern Ireland from A to Z.
“This situation has been 20 years in the making with the increasing power of a handful of large food retailers, large food wholesalers and to a lesser extent large food processors, over time continually coming back to the farmer for their profit.
“In short, legislation on farm gate prices would appear to be the only show in town to provide farmers with a tool to obtain their fair share of the financial cake.
“This is where the good news begins. If legislation were put in place in 2016 the financial food cake is big enough, therefore no need for consumers to pay anymore other than normal inflationary increases or decreases, 30,000 jobs would be created in Northern Ireland, one for each farm on average. University College Dublin (UCD) figures say that one job on every farm creates four down the line, therefore 120,000 more jobs in five years.
“In addition the welfare saving for Northern Ireland would more than wipe out the original £6 million shortfall at Stormont. A new economic report coming shortly will verify this.”
FFA, NIAPA and others will be pushing all of Northern Ireland’s politicians with renewed vigour after the Christmas break on this issue to pledge that they will make this legislation happen after the election, that’s where you come in.
The spokesperson added: “If you want to see a prosperous Northern Ireland then do your homework with us and prepare to vote for the political party/parties/ independents willing to pledge legislation on farm gate prices for Northern Ireland.
“As 2015 draws to a very painful financial close for NI farming families it is with pleasure that FFA and NIAPA offer hope for 2016.”