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NI farmers want aid and action for pigs and CAP

by 5m Editor
26 November 2007, at 11:14am

NORTHERN IRELAND - The Ulster Farmers’ Union is stepping up its campaign to help the province's beleaguered pig industry. It's also calling for sensible approach to CAP and the EU's Health Check proposals.

UFU headed up an industry delegation to meet Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew and discuss range of initiatives to boost the crisis-stricken pig sector. Feed prices are crippling pig businesses and wants DARD to be more pro-actively involved with the pig sector. "We have put a number of suggestions to the Minister and discussed these with her officials," said UFU President Kenneth Sharkey.

He outlined some of the proposals put forward at the meeting;
“We asked the Minister to support our call for the introduction of EU export refunds in the pig sector. The Minister will now be writing to DEFRA and the Department of Agriculture in ROI on this matter. We also once again urged the Minister to develop a public procurement policy favouring local food supplies, including pork and bacon."

He said that the Minister had assured farmers that the Department was exploring this issue, along with the Department for Education and Department for Health. And UFU was also pressing the Minister to introduce compulsory country of origin labeling for pork and bacon and release additional promotional funding to assist the marketing of local pork and bacon.

The Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association and Ulster Pork and Bacon Forum also attended the meeting.

Health Check - opportunity to assist industry and aid food quality

Earlier, UFU gave is backing to the EU Commission CAP Health Check Proposals which were launched today. It says it will be encouraging the Commission to deliver stability and simplification for farmers, within the proposals, .

President Kenneth Sharkey said that he welcomed the CAP Health Check, as an opportunity to adjust EU policy and further assist the farming industry. "It should help to deliver the CAP’s public goods, producing high quality food in appropriate conditions; creating jobs; sustaining rural communities; and managing our environment”, he added.

The proposals are now subject to a six month consultation, and UFU plans to begin this process with local farmers.

Mr Sharkey said that other aspects of the Commissions proposals will need to be considered carefully. "We will now consult widely with our members on proposals such as moving the Single Farm Payment towards a flatter rate system and scaling back payments to larger recipients of CAP funds”.

He urged Europe’s Agriculture Commissioner to ensure that CAP was free from bureaucracy;

EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel is already pursuing a simplification agenda and the Commission has responded by proposing the abolition of set-aside and removing unnecessary cross compliance obligations.

Concerns
The UFU raised concerns about the Commission's suggestion that EU modulation should be increased from 5 per cent to 13 per cent between now and 2013 to help fund the Rural Development Programme.

Modulation is not a popular mechanism with farmers, who see their direct payments reduced and Rural Development funds harder to access. Northern Ireland has already had increased rates of modulation imposed on farmers, and many are already at a disadvantage compared to their EU counterparts, says UFU.

5m Editor