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de Brún meets Ulster Farmers Union President John Gilliland on CAP reform

12 January, 2004

Sinn Féin's spokesperson on European Affairs Bairbre de Brún MLA today led a party delegation to meet Ulster Farmers Union president John Gilliland. The delegation included party spokesperson on agriculture Cllr Gerry McHugh. The meeting took place at the UFU headquarters in Belfast. The focus of the meeting was the issue of the British governments implementation of the reformed EU Common Agricultural Policy. DARD are currently in consultation on the mechanisms for implementation with a deadline of Friday January 16th.

Speaking after the meeting Ms de Brún said:

"The issue of CAP reform is of vital importance for farmers, rural communities and society as a whole. The outcome of the consultation will have a major impact on the future of our farming industry and the communities who rely on farming for their livelihood. It will in effect determine whether many farms continue to exist. As Ireland has a large number of small and family based farms this question is particularly important. It is undoubtedly one of the most important issues facing Irish society today.

"At the centre of the consultation is the issue of decoupling subsidies from production levels. Sinn Féin held a series of meetings with farmers to get a view of the model of decoupling which in their view would best suit the industry here. Todays meetings is part of that listening exercise for our party.

"It is our view that full decoupling is the best option for Irish agriculture and in the best interest of the industry.

"The meeting dealt with other aspects of the CAP reform process which have gotten little attention such as cross compliance, the use of modulation monies for rural development and the regulations covering animal welfare and food quality.

In conclusion Ms de Brún said

"It is important that we have a quick decision so farmers can plan for their future and put an end to the current uncertainty. It is also important that Irish farming has a strong and response lobby arguing for its interests within the European Union. Sinn Féin is committed to listening to the farming community and placing their concerns at the heart of our efforts to ensure a fair and equitable implementation of the CAP reform. Todays meeting has been both informative and constructive and will play a role in ensuring that our party fully understands the right way forward for Irish farmers."

The Sinn Féin delegation also meet with representatives of NIAPA including Lawrence Smyth.

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