A delegation from the Ulster Farmers’ Union is travelling to Brussels today (Wednesday) to meet with officials from the EU Commission’s Directorate of Direct Support to highlight the serious land availability difficulties facing local farmers.
In recent months potato and vegetable growers in particular have voiced concerns on the issue.
The meeting has been organised by MEPs Jim Nicholson and Diane Dodds off the back of the UFU’s meeting with the MEPs in late February.
UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson, who is leading the delegation which includes UFU policy officer Patricia Erwin, UFU potato policy committee chair Adrian Jameson and UFU vegetable policy committee chair Roy Lyttle said they have been aware for some time about the difficulties many farmers, in particular vegetable and potato growers, are having in securing land for 2015.
Mr Ferguson added: “This is largely down to the requirements around active farmer and the establishment of new entitlements. Potato and vegetable growers are particularly vulnerable to the detrimental effects these elements of the new CAP are having on land availability, as they require fresh ground annually and largely relied on neighbouring farmers and landowners for ‘clean’ parcels of land in order to grow crops.
“The UFU has been working hard for some time now to find a solution that would ensure the future of those farm businesses worst affected. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts a satisfactory resolution has not been forthcoming here at home so we have taken these issues directly to Brussels to see what can be done,” he added.
“We are meeting with the director of the Directorate of Direct Support to highlight the serious land availability situation facing many of our farmers on the ground and to push for a solution.
“The deadline for direct support applications is just around the corner and it is crucial that we see something put in place that would help our potato and vegetable growers access clean land.”