Hill farmers fury as fertiliser aid is ‘chopped’ without any forewarning (1983)
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Both the Ulster Farmers' Union and leaders of the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association were seeking talks with the Department of Agriculture early the following week to discuss “such drastic action without warning”.
The ADP lime grant had also been discontinued but farmers were more concerned about the fertiliser aid.
The department had explained that the decision was in order to ensure a proper balance of expenditure over the 10-year period of the ADP.
Under this £80 million was allocated over the 10 years, including £24 million for LFA land improvements.
Of this £24 million, a DANI spokesman had told Farming Life, over £10 million “had already been taken up in lime and fertiliser grants”.
Because of the need for a “proper balance” of expenditure over the 10-year period the ADP lime and fertiliser grants had had to be discontinued, the official stated.
One irate Co Fermanagh hill farmer, who had telephoned Farming Life, pointed out that many LFA livestock producers had been deprived of the fertiliser grant.
With DANI knowing how many acres would have been eligible for the grant surely, he said, there would have been no difficulty in “budgeting” for the proper amount of fertiliser needed.
There had been complaints about too much money having been spent on grants for “concrete roads into hill farms” rather than on the “productive aspect” but it was pointed out that this expenditure had already been “cut back”.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union had issued the following statement to Farming Life: “Following the announcement by the Department of Agriculture last week that the Agricultural Development Programme grants on initial dressings of lime and fertiliser were ended forthwith, the Ulster Farmers’ Union is to meet with department officials early next week.
“The value of these grants to farmer is borne out by the extent of the applications made during the first year and a half of this programme.”
The UFU statement continued: “The union will be seeking to convince the Department of Agriculture and the EC Commission of the value of the Agricultural Development Programme with a view to having more money allocated for aid under this programme.
“The union will also be putting to the department a number of problems of administration which affect individual farmers and which have been collected by the Union during the last few days.
“The way in which this decision had been taken and the announcement made ‘out of the blue’ has provoked much annoyance.”
The statement concluded: “Since last Monday farmers throughout the Less Favoured Areas of the province have been in touch with UFU headquarters and group secretaries in reaction to the announcement made by DANI that ADP grant aid for initial dressings of lime and fertiliser was ended.”
Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Agriculture Producers’ Association stated: “Many small farmers have lost out on the Agricultural Development Programme Aid for fertiliser which was stopped without warning.
“NIAPA are seeking an urgent meeting with the Department of Agriculture in the hope that something can be arranged to enable each farmer to get his one year entitlement for each arable acre on his farm.
“The majority of small farmers using approximately four ton each year, would have been due to apply for this years application. It takes a small farmer two years to reach the £500 minimum expenditure limit set by the department.”
NIAPA statement concluded: “The present ruling seems to have been calculated to deprive these men of subsidy to which they are entitled, and which many of them so desperately need.”