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Gildernew - Concern at decision to publish list of grant aided farmers

31 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has questioned the motivation behind the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development decision to make public details about subsidies and grants paid to farm businesses.

Ms Gildernew said:

"This caused huge uproar when the department first did it.

"I believe that it exposes the anti-farmer agenda at work within the department and it has to stop. DARD should be an advocate and promoter of our industry not an enemy.

"Not only does this bring sensitive information into the public domain that may impact on the competitiveness of a farm business it also could lead to tensions between neighbouring farmers. It is a gross invasion of privacy.

"If the department was genuine about wanting to improve transparency and accountability then it would be better expending its energies in reforming its bureaucracy.

"This is money that farmers are entitled to. It is includes monies awarded under the CAP reform agenda that recognises the important role of farmers as guardians of the countryside.

"My concern is that DARD are trying to perpetuate a myth that farmers are getting public money hand over fist when the truth is very different. Levels of farm poverty are at there highest for generations and hundreds are being forced off the land. Levels of stress and depression are at an all time high and many farmers are struggling with unmanageable levels of debt." ENDS

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