BYGONE DAYS: UFU anger as LFA saga continues to ‘grind on’
Continued delay in the government application to Brussels for the extension of the Less Favoured Areas (LFA) had come in for renewed bitter criticism at a meeting of the Ulster Farmers’ Union Executive Committee which had met in Belfast at the end of March 1982 reported Farming Life.
While UFU leaders held no hope of the extension coming into operation in 1982 they were anxious to avoid further prolonged delay which could have even prevented the start of the scheme early in 1983.
“The saga of the LFA extension grinds on,” UFU president Mr Mervyn Loane told the executive.
He continued: “If it were not so serious to those farmers who are entitled to be included in the areas it would be ludicrous.
“We have been told so often that progress is about to be made in the form of an application for the extension to the EEC Commissioners. But as far as I know no application had yet been made.
“Members of the civil service have repeatedly told us that the application is likely to have a slow, difficult passage through the commissioners, but when we went to Brussels to brief the people who would be handling the application they told us that provided the spadework was properly done by our government before it was sent to Brussels, it would pass through the commissioners’ scrutiny in weeks rather than months.”
Continuing his remarks to the UFU Executive Committee meeting, Mr Loane said: “But they warned us that unless our government was enthusiastic in its support when it reached the Council of Ministers, it could be shifted from one month’s agenda to the next for long enough before a decision was eventually taken.
“All we are asking government to do is to put right something they did wrong when the original survey was made, and this area of land was not designated. It is now known it should have been.”
Mr Loane said he thought that somebody in government should have realised that fact that after three years work the application was still not ready. He added that reflected no credit on the administration ability of those whose responsibility it was to get the job done.
Commenting on the Price Review, Mr Loane said that unfortunately the decisions were “now likely to get caught up in the summit wrangles”.
He said: “And so we are likely to be deprived of whatever level of increase we are allocated until a matter of which we have no influence nor in which we had a part to play as it was settled between Mrs Thatcher and the EEC.”
Dealing with the general state of the industry in Northern Ireland, Mr Loane said that following the “disastrous fall in income” in 1981, when farmers had received, “15 per cent of the average level of 1973-78 income”, he said it was encouraging that a preliminary look at the 1981 figures had shown “a substantial increase”.
He hastened to add that, “it would not even bring us, in real terms, to 50 per cent of the average of those years”.
He added: “Now in 1982 prices for most commodities have improved, so we are getting some compensation to offset against the steadily increasing cost of our inputs.”
BALLYBOLEY PLOUGHING AWARDS
Three well-known ploughmen – Desmond Wright of Coleraine, Robert Wright of Magherafelt and Sam Maybin from Kells, received two trophies each at the Ballyboley and District Tractor Ploughing Society’s distribution of awards at the Kilwaughter House Hotel in Larne.
Des Wright, won the 12 inch world style open class and had the best work by a Fordson tractor and plough.
Robert, another member of the Wright family, came first in the 12 inch world style confined class and had the best work by a David Brown tractor and plough.
Sam Maybin’s two cups were for winning the vintage hydraulic class and having the best maintained vintage tractor.
The other two special award winners at the annual contest at Castle Upton, Templepatrick, were Raymond Clifford from Ballynure, for his best work by a Ferguson tractor and plough, and William King from Coleraine, for the best work done by an International tractor and plough.