UUP MLA Robin Swann has called on Farm Minister Michelle O’Neill to “give a cast iron pledge” that she will not only continue to guarantee funding for Ulster’s Young Farmers’ Clubs, but will seek to increase that cash aid for the benefit of young people who wish to develop their rural careers.
The North Antrim representative has been a long-time campaigner to ensure that appropriate funding goes to Young Farmers’ Clubs.
Asked whether funding would continue to the Young Farmers’ Clubs, the minister noted: “Full consideration will be given to any proposal made by the Young Farmers’ Clubs for the further provision of grant aid in 2016-17. Assessment will be dependent on the achievement of targets specified in the current agreed programme of delivery and subject to budget availability, key competing departmental priorities and business case approval.”
Mr Swann added: “Young Farmers’ Clubs play a pivotal part in maintaining the continued existence of many of our agricultural families and in preparing young people for careers in farming. It is, therefore, essential that this funding not only be maintained, but the level of cash aid to the clubs must be increased.”
“The Young Farmers’ Clubs also have an important role in securing the long-term future of rural communities.
“If Young Farmers’ Clubs do not get this much-needed funding, there is the real danger that without their valuable activities, a number of rural communities could disappear. We must not allow the threat of this social devastation to become a community reality,” said Assemblyman Swann.