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‘Farming incomes must be defended’ - Doherty

18 November, 2010 - by Pearse Doherty TD

The right to earn a fair and reasonable income must be restored to farming communities in Donegal, Sinn Féin senator Pearse Doherty has declared.

Senator Doherty was speaking after joining the North’s Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew to meet with the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) in Ballybofey yesterday (Wednesday).

He said:

“Michelle and I met with farmers both at Stranorlar Mart and with the IFA,”

“These were very positive engagements and there is a clear acknowledgement of the commitment and contribution that Michelle has brought to the agriculture industry, not just in the North but on an-island basis.

“However, the farming sector is still facing a number of very serious challenges which continue to be ignored by this government.

“The closure of schemes such as Installation Aid, Disadvantaged Areas Grant; Suckler Support and the Early Retirement Scheme has left question marks over the future of the industry.

“As a disadvantaged area, Donegal has borne the brunt of these cuts. The withdrawal of the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme alone has impacted on thousands of farms in this county.

“That is the legacy of this government for farming in Donegal and if I am elected in this by-election, I will use the seat as a platform to campaign for a reversal of those measures which have had such a negative impact.

“The irony is that our agriculture industry has the potential to become the backbone of the country’s economic recovery if it is properly supported. It is the only sector which grew over the last year. It is now worth €4.2 billion and employs some 200,000 people directly and indirectly. Agriculture is the key to this economy and is the lifeline for many rural communities but it needs to be properly resourced, particularly in disadvantaged areas like Donegal. Our farmers have a right to earn a fair and reasonable income from the land and Sinn Féin will continue to resists the government’s attempts to strip them of that right.” ENDS

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