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Sinn Féin voice major concerns about Equality impact of New Entrants Scheme

1 September, 2004

Sinn Fein's newly appointed spokesperson on Agriculture, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has expressed serious concerns about the Equality Impact of the New Entrants Scheme for farmers after the publication of the Equality Impact Assessment.

Ms Gildernew said:

"We have some quite serious concerns about the outcomes in the equality impact assessment in the New Entrants Scheme. While Sinn Fein supports a scheme that will bring new blood into the farming industry, we have misgivings about a scheme that disallows part-time farmers.

"Given the fact that DARD have for the past 15 years urged farmers to diversify and take up part-time employment, the entry rule to this scheme states that the new entrant must be a full time farmer would seem to send out very conflicting messages about the vision that DARD has for the industry.

"Given the make up of farms in the North, this scheme automatically excludes thousands of farms. The report also talks about the need to mitigate possible differential impacts for both viable and non-viable holdings. The question must also be asked, what farm size is viable?

"We are seeking an urgent meeting with the department to discuss the many issues which this report has brought to light, and to ask what mitigating measures will be allowed including the possibility for part-time farmers to apply." ENDS

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