Regret NI farming has been ‘plunged into uncertainty’

Caoimhe Archibald, with Councillor Dermot Nicholl, Declan McAleer MLA and Cathal Hassan MLA at the DARD fundingadvice meeting held in the Drummond hotel this week. INLV4215-018KDRCaoimhe Archibald, with Councillor Dermot Nicholl, Declan McAleer MLA and Cathal Hassan MLA at the DARD fundingadvice meeting held in the Drummond hotel this week. INLV4215-018KDR
Caoimhe Archibald, with Councillor Dermot Nicholl, Declan McAleer MLA and Cathal Hassan MLA at the DARD fundingadvice meeting held in the Drummond hotel this week. INLV4215-018KDR
Responding to Mr Poot’s presentation to the Assembly, Mr Dermot McAleer (Sinn Fein, West Tyrone), chairperson of the Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, said: “The Assembly’s Committees were formed only last Monday.

“Nevertheless, the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (AERA) Committee deemed this matter to be of such urgency that it met for the first time one day after it was established, on Tuesday last week, to consider the matter.

“We were able, at very short notice, to have departmental officials before the Committee to answer our questions.”

Mr McAleer continued: “The importance of the direct payments to farmers must not be underestimated. For most farmers, CAP direct payments make up the majority of their income; in fact, last year, as much as 80% of farmers’ income was the direct payments that they received in the subsidies.”

Concluding his remarks Mr McAleer reflected on the impact that Brexit will have on his own constituency of West Tyrone.

He said: “Before I finish, I just want to say a couple of points as a Sinn Féin MLA who represents the rural constituency of West Tyrone, which benefited from single farm payments of £43 million last year.

“It is important to point out - my colleagues will, no doubt, pick up on it - that the process that we are engaged in this evening - the LCM, the pressure to adhere to the Westminster timetable, the consequent pressure on the committee to scrutinise this in a very short time and all of the associated uncertainty - is a direct product of Brexit, which the majority of people here in the north did not vote for. It is a matter of huge regret that, while the rest of the EU is now planning for the 2021-27 EU CAP, with direct payments, interventions in certain sectors and rural development as the centrepiece, we have been plunged into this uncertainty due to a Brexit that we did not want.”

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