Sinn Féin supports introduction of new bTB control policies

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​Sinn Féin is calling on the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to introduce the new bovine tuberculosis (bTB) control measures, agreed by industry stakeholders over recent months, as a matter of priority.

These include the control of the disease within Northern Ireland’s badger population.

Sinn Féin’s agriculture spokesperson, Declan McAleer commented: “Too many farms are impacted by bTB at the present time. If we can get control of the disease, it should also free-up money to support other aspects of farming.”

McAleer acknowledges the views of animal rights’ activists, where badger culling is concerned.

“But these same groups must also recognise the welfare implications of culling cattle on an increasing scale. And this is exactly what’s happening right now.”

Sinn Féin had a major presence at last week’s Balmoral Show with party members keen to demonstrate their strong commitment to farming.

Sinn Fein’s agriculture spokesperson in Northern Ireland, Declan McAleer, confirmed the great concern that now exists at farm level regarding the future of the basic payment scheme.

“This issue came up repeatedly throughout the event,” he added.

“And farmers are right to be concerned. The existing single payment budget remains in place until the end of the current parliamentary cycle at Westminster.

“Beyond this, there is total uncertainty as to what is coming down the track.”

According to McAleer, the single payment accounts for around 90% of the farm income generated in Northern Ireland on an annual basis.

“The monies involved are in the region of £300m per annum. And they play a critical role in maintaining the fabric of the farming industry.”

Looking to the future, Sinn Féin wants farm policy structures in Northern Ireland to mirror those of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

A case in point is the restoration of the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments. Previously, these were worth up to £20m to the north’s rural economy on an annual payments.

Declan McAleer again:“The scheme was ended by the former DUP agriculture minister Edwin Poots. It was the wrong decision to take.”

Prior to the winding up of the Stormont Executive, McAleer had introduced his own private members’ bill, the introduction of which would see the restoration of ANC payments.

He further explained: “The principles enshrined within the draft legislation had been well received by many stake holder groups, including the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

“Hopefully, the draft bill can be quickly picked up on, once Stormont re-convenes. By taking this approach, our sole aim is to equalise farm support measures across the island of Ireland.”