UFU meets minister on budget

Ulster Farmers’ Union President Ian Marshall, CEO Clarke Black, and Policy Director Wesley Aston met with Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill to discuss the recent proposals for £30 million in cuts to the DARD budget in 2015/16.

Ian Marshall said: “We had a useful meeting with the Minister and have some more clarity in relation to the proposed budget cuts. We raised a number of points, highlighting our areas of concern and we reiterated our position that these cuts must not impact on frontline services as it is vital for farmers that these key services are protected.”

The UFU continues to examine the proposals in more detail and will be submitting a response to the consultation.

Ian Marshall continued: “Cash flow difficulties are currently a major issue for the farming community and we are pleased that the Minister and DARD were able to issue 91.3% of Single Farm Payments to farmers on the 1st December.

“With such a high number of payments issued on the first day of the month, we would expect that DARD will achieve its target of 93% of payments being made by the end of December.

“We did stress to the minister the importance of also ensuring the prompt payment of inspection cases and we are aware of DARD’s intention to pay out 500 inspection cases before the end of the month, which is very good news.

“The timely issuing of these direct payments is welcomed by farmers, especially as the market continues to fail to deliver for many farmers across a number of sectors and cash flow has been a significant issue on many people’s minds.”