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Response to delay in Single Farm Payments unacceptable

7 October, 2005

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has said that the response of NIO Agriculture Minster Jeff Rooker to the delays in the payments of the Single Farm Payment beyond the December 1st window is unacceptable.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Delaying the Single Farm Payment until early 2006 will be a disaster. For many farmers already facing hardship it will push them over the edge.

"It is frustrating that the delay is nothing to do with farming here in the North but is due to the failure of the British organisation responsible for allocating the funding to the local department, the Rural Payments Agency. The contrast with the south, where payments are on target to be made this month could not be starker. It is further evidence that being tied to UK farming policy is bad for our farmers.

"But we do not need to be face these threats caused by British incompetence. Jeff Rooker could go direct to the EU and negotiate approval for bringing forward the payment date for the Single Farm Payment. There are provisions under the EU regulations to make payments from October 16th on the grounds of farmers facing severe financial hardship.

"Given the realities facing many farmers it is vital that Jeff Rooker acts now to try and alleviate crisis. The farming community is at rock bottom and more needs to be done to bring in some confidence and stability

"Over 80,000 jobs in the north depend, directly and indirectly, on the farming industry so the impact of farmers going under will have a huge economic impact beyond the industry itself.." ENDS

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