Michelle O’Neill visits Sperrins sheep farm
Speaking after visiting a sheep farm in the Sperrins, Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán and Joint Head of Government Michelle O’Neill MLA said: “I visited the Sperrins sheep farm of Hugh Devine recently alongside our agriculture spokesperson, Declan McAleer MLA and West Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley to see at first hand the challenges facing farmers at this time.
“This pandemic has impacted on every section of our society and our farmers and agri-food producers have been among those hardest hit.
“Some farmers, like Hugh, have faced even more difficulty as he contracted COVID-19 but still had a farm to look after.
“Thankfully he has made a full recovery and is back farming.
“And that is a testament to the hard work, dedication and commitment of our farmers at this challenging time in helping to make sure food supplies continue.”
She continued: “But farmers are facing huge challenges. The closure of hotels and restaurants has led to a reduction in demand and a collapse in prices. And at the same time cost of feed and fertiiliser has risen.
“There are 20,000 beef and sheep farmers in the north and it is they who will be hardest hit.
“The Executive, through my colleague Finance Minister Conor Murphy has made £25m available to the Agriculture Minister to support farmers through this pandemic.”
She concluded: “While all sections of the farming and agriculture industry will be hit, beef and sheep farmers, particularly those farming in hilly areas, are most in need and it is our view that the majority of this support funding should go to them.
“As farmers face the prospect of the looming Brexit and the severe consequences it will have for the sector, it is essential this funding should go where it is most needed.”