SDLP agriculture spokesperson Seán Rogers MLA has called on the DUP to come clean on the impact of Brexit on the farming community.
Mr Rogers was responding to comments made by DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson that the British Government would pick up the bill for income lost from single farm payments if Britain leaves the European Union.
The South Down MLA said: “There’s no doubt that leaving the European Union would be a disaster for our farming and fishing industries. The support offered to the agriculture family in Northern Ireland through single farm payments is absolutely invaluable to sustaining one of our core economic sectors.
“CAP payments are worth over £250m to our farmers. So it was with some surprise that when questioned about whether George Osborne and the British government are going to pick up the bill for that support if we’re forced out of the EU, Jeffrey Donaldson responded by saying ‘You bet he is’.
“Mr Donaldson also revealed that the DUP has had discussions with the British government about the impact of Brexit on the farming industry and that he believes they will continue to support our farmers. I find that interesting given that the British EFRA Minister has said, under questioning, in the last month that her department has made no assessment at all of the impact of Brexit on the farming sector. Aside from the dubious proposal that this Tory government will meet the needs of Northern Ireland, in a way that they’ve failed to do over six years, Mr Donaldson is naïve in the extreme if he thinks they will commit to supporting our local industry having completed no assessment of its needs.
“The DUP needs to come clean about the impact that leaving the European Union will have on our indigenous farming industry. They also need to put on the public record what discussions they have had about support for the farming industry and with whom in the British Government those discussions took place,” said Mr Rogers.
“Brexit is one of the biggest challenges facing our economy, especially for the food and farming industries worth billions each year. The DUP cannot play games with vague language. They need to come clean about their position, about the impact of Brexit and about the specifics of commitments entered into by the British government. Otherwise the public will see through their spin.”