Byrne presses O’Neill on cash crisis

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Vice-chair of the Assembly’s agri committee, Joe Byrne MLA, has pressed the agriculture minister on the cash flow problems faced by many farmers.

He said: “This week I specifically asked the agriculture minister will DARD be able to deliver the Basic Farm Payment by October. It was a gross disappointment to hear that the 70% upfront payment will not be made by DARD to farmers who are currently suffering an enormous cash flow crisis.

“The failure of DARD in delivering the Basic Payment Scheme is particularly galling in light of the current cash flow problems that farmers now face. The agriculture minister Michelle O’Neil and the permanent secretary need to address this problem immediately.

“DARD has failed over the past four years to develop an administrative system that meets the needs of farmers and instead we have been left with one which has continually let farmers down and eroded farmer confidence.

“On last week’s EU announcement I welcomed the allocation of the 500 million euro package deal throughout Europe to help in the current crisis.

“Unfortunately the package does not go far enough. I believe that is critical that the minister, in cooperation with EU commissioner Phil Hogan and DEFRA continue to work for a better deal for Northern Ireland farmers and restore confidence.”