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Gildernew - Rotating door not good for farmers

5 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew speaking ahead of her first meeting with the newly appointed direct rule Agriculture Minister David Cairns said:

"Agriculture needs a long-term vision to make the most of the opportunities we now have to address the very difficult climate facing many of the sectors. We also need consistent leadership. The rotating door at DARD has not done us any favours.

"All we can do is consistently work to keep the department and its temporary ministers focused on what are the priorities for the agricultural and fishing industries. These are the priorities that hopefully we can pick up when the DUP finally realise that we need to get the Executive back up and running.

"We need to see progress on the free movement of animals across the island and we need to put in place a plan of action to make the most of the lifting of the beef ban.

"I am also determined to make sure that farmers get a fair deal out the rural planning controversy and that there are changes in the viability criteria that clearly discriminate against the smaller farmer. I think that I share the disappointment of many farmers at the approach of DARD to the rural planning issue and in particular the mixed messages on farm diversification. This needs to be cleared up.

"There is also widespread frustration among farmers that the Single Farm
Payment has become a bureaucratic nightmare. When farmers signed up to the
SFP they were promised that they would have the freedom to farm. But they
haven't. Instead farmers are still living with too much paper work, rules
that are continually changing and high levels of stress and uncertainty. The
department needs to get its act together." ENDS

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