Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan has said that the Executive must support DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill in her plans to spend European money if the rural communities including small farmers are to be protected.
Mr. McMullan stated,
“Following the decision at the High Court I believe the Minister is bringing proposals to the Executive table and these proposals should be supported.
“If the DUP vetoes the ministers’ proposals this will lead to the British Government taking the decision on Monday.
“The outcome of this is likely to be no transfer of funds, in comparison to 12% for England, 15% for Wales and 9.5% for Scotland.
“If we have zero transfer from Pillar I to Pillar II then rural communities will suffer including small farmers and the agri-food industry.
“It is important that we get the balance right in developing the rural economy and sacrificing non farming elements of that economy will not add to the increasing economy of the farming sector.
“One of the fasted growing elements is the agri-food sector and this growth will be jeopardised if we do not invest in rural infrastructure.
“Monies from Pillar II also go directly to farmers so if there is zero transfer then small farmers will be severely impacted upon.
“It is therefore crucial that the parties around the Executive table support the strategy being implemented by the Minister so that we can grow the entire farming sector together.
“The DUP seem intent on damaging the wider agri-food sectors plans for growth and rural jobs for short term political advantage. I would call on them to reconsider.”