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Would Allister prefer farmers to be governed by 'Southern' approach to Single Farm Payment?

25 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Michelle Gildernew MP commenting on the revelation that farmers in the north had £2.8 million in Single Farm Payments withheld because of the way DARD has operated strict guidelines and the highlighting, by DUP MEP Jim Allister, of the comparison with the southwhere only £230,000 was withheld, has said that perhaps Mr Allister can begin to appreciate the argument put forward by Sinn Féin for the development of an all-Ireland Agricultural framework, particularly in relation to the EU.

Ms Gildernew said:

"There are widespread concerns that the way that DARD operate the single Farm Payment scheme in the north has caused unnecessary hardship. The culture of red tape, bureaucracy and lack of support and flexibility for farmers are the hallmark of the way that DARD does business in the north.

"It is ironic that DUP MEP Jim Allister draws comparison with the situation in the south where despite 3 times as much money being delivered through the SFP scheme the figure for monies being withheld is some £230,000.

"While I appreciate the fact that it is not accurate to make a direct like-for-like comparison, the size of the difference does indicate that different approach to the implementation of EU guidelines is possible.

"Perhaps Mr Allister can remove the blinkers for a second and put the interest of the farming community ahead of his narrow political agenda. Sinn Féin have consistently highlighted problems with DARD and more fundamentally the damage that being tied into a 'UK' position on agriculture particularly in relation to Europe has done and continues to do to our local industry.

"Sinn Féin have repeatedly argued that the development of an all-Ireland Agricultural framework to farming is in the interests of our farmers, particularly in relation to negotiations with the EU and the implementation of EU guidelines and directives." ENDS

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