Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

DUP Minister appears to indicate that hill farmers go on dole - Greene

Published: 12 January, 2017

Sinn Féin Erne East Councillor Sheamus Greene has expressed his disgust at the announcement by the DUP DAERA Minister, Michelle McIlveen, to end the Area of Natural Constraint Scheme costing the more vulnerable farmers in the north of Ireland £20million per year.

Councillor Greene said:

"The DUP seem to be have set a course of attacking less well-off people so as to pay for their incompetence in the RHI Heating Scheme.

"First they cut £50k per year in a blatant attack on the Irish language Líofa programme which allows children and families who may not otherwise afford it to attend classes in the Gaeltacht, only to climb down and reinstate the funding.

"Now they have decided to attack hill farmers who are just about surviving in the tough environment of a hill farm, by cutting £20 million per year from them.

"In fact, the Minister appears to indicate that hill farmers should sign on the dole!

"In a letter to Stormont's Agriculture Committee, the Minister's officers explained that an option to fund the doomed scheme from the NI Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 would not 'target support accurately to those farmers with low incomes'.

"It added, 'Nor was there a justifiable reason why this mechanism was needed for a particular sub-section of the rural population given the existence of the broader welfare regime.'

"This is an extraordinary statement by the Department and one for which I hope the entire farming population holds the Minister to account.

"It all adds to the impression that hill farmers are an easy target to exploit and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, whose job it is to protect the farming industry are, infact, leading the charge against hill farmers in particular.

"With Brexit looming I am very scared for the farming industry with a Minister who has, even before EU subsidies disappear, decided to making sweeping cuts to farming incomes.

"Sadly, this isn't the first time the DUP along with their Tory friends have voted against farmer's interests. They previously joined together to vote to cut the EU CAP budget, thus cutting the amount of money farmers had access to.

"I appeal to Minister McIlveen to reverse her decision on the ANC scheme and ensure that it continues to support farmers in disadvantaged areas." - Ends / Críoch