Proposals are ‘grossly unfair' to sheep farrmers says Mid Ulster MLA

Sinn Féin MLA Emma Sheerin has said that sheep farms, particularly those in less favoured areas like the Sperrins, will be severely impacted if the Agriculture Minister does not change his future agriculture policy proposals.

The South Derry representative said: “When the Single Farm Payment system came in, sheep farmers in LFA/ANC areas historically had entitlement values below the regional average.

“They laboured with this for years, then in 2015, the then Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill introduced a seven-year transition towards a flat/equal rate per entitlement.

“This was good news for sheep farmers, and I know how welcome it was in our hill areas, but when Minister Poots came into office in 2020, he halted this transition.

Emma Sheerin MLA.

“Along with his party’s decision to scrap the ANC Hill farm payment, he has removed millions of pounds each year from small farmers, mostly in areas of natural constraint.

“The latest agriculture proposals from the Minister continues this neglect by failing to re-introduce the ANC payment and not including any plans to introduce a sheep support scheme.

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“This is grossly unfair because under the proposals all farmers, including sheep farmers, will have their new Single Farm Payment modulated by up to 17% but none of this is earmarked for a sheep support scheme.

“This also places our farmers at a serious competitive disadvantage to farmers in the south which has the ANC and a sheep welfare scheme,” added the Mid Ulster MLA.

“As well as the Ministers plans to remove almost 5,000 farms from the new Single Farm Payment scheme as they are under 25 acres, these latest proposals could inflict even more serious and long lasting damage on our hill farms and rural communities” she warned.

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