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Concerns raised over new entrants scheme

6 June, 2005

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has questioned whether the re-opening of the new entrants scheme will have the desired effect of bringing 'new blood' into the industry and called on the newly appointed direct rule Minster Jeff Rooker to bring forward proposals on a retirement scheme.

Ms Gildernew said:

"I do not believe that this scheme will introduce significant new blood into the farming industry.

"Given the current circumstances where so many farms are in significant debt, is it sensible to introduce a scheme where a greater level of borrowing is added to the agricultural industry

"Sinn Féin would hope that the four main banks, that are currently under investigation for charging practices, would keep under constant review the interest they are charging farm families, with a view to reducing this interest. Farmers who are considering borrowing money should also investigate this possibility with their local credit union.

"While we welcome the fact that income for off-farm employment, including that of spouses, would be taken into account when making an application into this scheme Sinn Féin believes that a retirement scheme would be far more appropriate." ENDS

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