Public awareness can drive action, claims Dodds

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DUP MEP Diane Dodds has commented on this week’s developments both at home and in Europe in relation to the ongoing agriculture crisis facing all sectors across Europe.

DUP MEP Diane Dodds said: “In the past number of months, we have all witnessed the downturn in global markets and the impact that the weakened euro has had on farm gate prices.

“Issues of oversupply, reduced demand from key players such as China and Russia have all been well rehearsed and understood by the farming community.

“While farmers struggle with the practicalities associated with incomes being slashed up to 50%, Europe and Westminster have been slow to acknowledge the gravity of the situation. If we as politicians and farmers want to see much-needed action, the key must be raising public awareness of the situation and being united in our voice.

“It is clear to see that the public frustration demonstrated both here in Northern Ireland, England, France and Belgium is beginning to have an impact.

“It is important that we capitalise on this momentum and deliver action for our farmers.

“Receiving the backing of the public makes addressing the power retailers have in the market place, raising intervention prices and securing additional funding to support agriculture more achievable.

“Just this morning I received an email from the Chair of the EU Agriculture Committee which publicly stated that “the EU must now strengthen and speed up its actions to stabilise its agriculture markets”.

“I am disappointed that it has taken this long however I believe it is a step in the right direction.

“The EU Council of Ministers, Commission and Phil Hogan must take their heads out of the sand and deal with the problem as a matter of urgency.

“I have requested a meeting with the Commissioner and will be using this opportunity to reinforce once again the needs of the agriculture sector here in Northern Ireland and I ask that farmers and the wider public continue to make their voice heard on these matters.”