Diane Dodds MEP and Chair of the Agriculture Committee William Irwin MLA have met with the newly appointed Ulster Farmers’ Union Chief Executive Wesley Aston to discuss his new role within the UFU and the pressing issues facing agriculture across Northern Ireland.
Speaking after the meeting Mrs Dodds said it was good to sit down with Mr Aston and to work together at tackling the pressures facing farmers both around farm gate prices and the implementation of the CAP in Northern Ireland.
She added: “It is important especially given the difficult market conditions facing farmers that DARD prioritise the processing and payment of the new basic payment by December of this year. I do not want to see farmers, due to inspections or failures on DARD’s behalf, facing additional financial pressures.
“Over the coming months I also want DARD to act on the reassurances given that those who are not entitled to claiming under the new scheme are ruled out ensuring those actively farming and clearly taking the risks are awarded direct support.”
Mr Irwin added: “It is important that lobby organisations like the UFU take the opportunity to discuss the issues facing their membership and work with the Agriculture Committee to effect change. Over recent months as Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee I have fought hard to find a common sense approach on issues like cattle tagging and the implementation of the Common Agriculture Policy. These issues are important to farmers right across Province.
“It is imperative that we hold the Department and the Minister to account and this can only be helped by farmers having a clear and coherent vision of what they need to help the industry become more profitable and sustainable in the future.”