O’Neill raises crisis facing farmers with Hogan

Michelle O'Neill
Michelle O'Neill

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has brought the challenges facing Northern Ireland’s dairy farmers to the European Union in Brussels.

The minister led a strong delegation of political and industry representatives to meet Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and his senior officials to press for additional EU support for the dairy sector.

Minister O’Neill’s delegation to the specially-arranged meeting included the north’s MEPs and the Chair of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. She pressed for movement on the intervention price and for timely and effective support for our industry in the face of falling milk prices.

The issue will be discussed again by EU farming ministers at a special Agricultural Council meeting in Brussels next Monday which Minister O’Neill will attend.

Speaking afterwards, the minister said: “It was very important for our farming industry that we outlined our unique and extreme circumstances to Commissioner Hogan today. We lobbied hard in the meeting to press for a review of the intervention price.

“I welcome that the Commissioner took the unusual step of receiving a large delegation from the north. I am encouraged that he recognised the unique circumstances of the north and the particular problems faced by our industry.”

Looking ahead to next week’s special Agricultural Council meeting, Minister O’Neill said she will continue to put pressure on the Commission for a review of the intervention price and that it is clear that a number of member states are now also pushing for a review.