DARD letting farmers down
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has accused DARD of trying to hoodwink local farmers about denials that management of the department's budget resulted in millions being lost to the industry.
Ms Gildernew said:
"At almost every twist and turn it seems that senior civil servants just can't be straight with the farming community. The attempt to try and spin their way out of the under spending scandal highlights the approach of DARD.
"Whatever about rolling forward budget allocations for the Vision Programme including the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme the fact is that over £6 million was lost to the industry. By not being straight about the handling of its departmental budget DARD is letting farmers down.
"The fact is that the total departmental capital programme under spend in was nearly £30 million pounds or 43.2% of the total capital spending budget. Yes, much of this has been rolled forward but the bottom line is that if DARD is getting its budget forecasts so badly wrong at a time when the farming community is crying out for support then just what is going on within DARD.
"It is clear that in the absence of a local minister in charge and without the Assembly and Assembly scrutiny committee that there is a not the full accountability in place that DARD requires. The result is that farmers are being short changed and that programmes and funding that should have been fully run are not and that millions is being lost to the industry." ENDS