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Ferris: PDs silent on Agriculture

5 April, 2004

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD has accused the Progressive Democrats in the Dáil of being completely silent on issues affecting agriculture. Deputy Ferris was responding to an attack on Sinn Féin policy by PD TD Noel Grealish in a newspaper article which Ferris claimed distorted Sinn Féin policy.

Deputy Ferris said:

"I must admit to being surprised to learn that Deputy Grealish is the PD spokesperson on Agriculture as I am not aware of his having contributed to any debate on issues affecting the sector since he was elected. This has included crucial debates on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

"However, that has not prevented him adding his tuppence worth to a newspaper article distorting Sinn Féin's policy. Sinn Féin recommends that a Land Commission be re-established in order to ensure that where land becomes available that it is not priced beyond the means of local farmers who wish to expand. The Commission would buy the land, and lease it on a long-term basis. Deputy Grealish chooses to compare this to the policies of Robert Mugabe. In reality he is more concerned with adding to the campaign of hysteria being generated by his party against republicans and to anyone else who objects to the PD's right wing policies that favour the wealthy in our society."

The following is the text of the motion passed by the 2004 Ard Fheis that includes reference to a Land Commission:

Motion 108 Sinn Féin proposes:

(1) Vigorous measures to push forward with the development of an all Ireland strategy for agriculture, embracing all aspects from animal health to the marketing of food produce; and to work for the removal of British status from Six Counties agricultural produce;

(1) A reversal of the closure of Teagasc research facilities and for the expansion of research and development to equip Irish agriculture for the challenges that lie ahead;

(2) The promotion of genuine producer co-operatives as an alternative to the major food processors and a means to ensure that farmers receive adequate payment for their produce;

(3) The establishment of arbitration bodies, comprising 50% of farming representatives, to adjudicate on appeals arising from the introduction of the decoupled single farm payment;

(4) the establishment of a review group, comprised of Department officials, independent experts and farming representatives, to conduct a review of the operation of the CAP reform after two years, to adjudge whether it is meeting its objective of maintaining the European model of sustainable agriculture with the family farm at its centre;

(5) To re-establish a Land Commission that will intervene in the land market to buy agricultural land when it becomes available and lease it to small to medium farmers who wish to expand. ENDS

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