EFRA to probe farmgate pricing ‘crisis’

MP David Simpson with Waringstown dairy farmer Charlie Weir
MP David Simpson with Waringstown dairy farmer Charlie Weir

Following the commencement of the Westminster EFRA inquiry into the Farmgate Pricing, Upper Bann MP David Simpson has pledged to use his position on the Committee to investigate every avenue that is available through the committee.

Mr Simpson said that over the next number of weeks, members of the EFRA Committee will be given numerous opportunities to question representatives of the farming community in order to establish the best strategy for the Government to take.

He added: “With pressures and barriers being faced by farmers on a daily basis, the issues are real and farmers call out for urgent action from our Government.

“We simply cannot let this inquiry turn into a talking shop that provides no value or substance to those dealing with the difficulties. I want to put on record my thanks to members of the EFRA Committee for agreeing to initiate this inquiry and we look forward to a positive outcome for all within the farming community.

“This week I took the opportunity to question representatives from the NFU, National Sheep Association and the National Pig Association. Throughout discussions I made members aware of the huge price differences between the sale of livestock in Northern Ireland and on mainland Britain. The price differences have created a loss of over £32 million to the Northern Ireland economy; this is a truly devastating level of financial failure. A greater strength of collaboration is vital if we wish to work towards the common goal of easing the financial pressures being faced,” Mr Simpson added.

“As a committee, we will be using the inquiry to put more pressure on the large retailers to source an increased level of British produce to ensure that NI farmers have a competitive advantage over other regions in Europe and beyond. In the midst of this crisis, consumer mindsets have moved towards buying local, and it is time retailers got ahead of the market and put British produce on British shelves. I look forward to seeing how the inquiry develops in the coming days. I would encourage local farmers and their representatives to channel their views through my office in order to ensure that the farming community in Northern Ireland is placed at the heart of this inquiry.”