The SDLP Comment of Farming Issues.
DoE Minister eases EU farm slurry-spreading ban
At their recent meeting in Castlewellan, South Down SDLP members welcomed the decision by Department of Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, to allow farmers the option of spreading slurry or manure during the closed winter period owing to an exceptionally wet summer and autumn.
SDLP members across South Down commended Minister Attwood for again working with the Ulster Farmers’ Union and Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association to provide a sensible solution for those farmers genuinely unable to comply with the closed period for spreading slurry, where the farmer has a reasonable excuse and retains written records supporting their decision to avail of this option.
The meeting recognised the challenges faced by the farming industry and SDLP members reaffirmed their commitment to using the party’s role in government to assist farmers in difficult times by adopting a common-sense approach and reducing the bureaucratic burden.
SDLP plan to reduce cost of on-farm investment
South Down SDLP expressed support for Department of Environment Minister, Alex Attwood’s recent proposal to ease planning rules to enable farmers to extend existing or construct new agricultural buildings up to 500 square metres (the equivalent of over 5,000 square feet) without having to go through the planning application process, whilst building safeguards in to the proposal to ensure appropriate development and to protect neighbours.
At their recent meeting, SDLP members agreed the proposal will cut the red tape burden on farmers and reduce the cost of expanding their businesses, helping to grow the wider agri-food economy. South Down SDLP would urge all MLAs to support this legislation and anticipate the proposals will become law in Spring 2013.
SDLP tackling challenges facing farming industry
South Down SDLP has acknowledged the importance of the agri-food industry and the critical role it has to play in developing our economy and job creation. South Down SDLP members discussed at a recent meeting also the challenges faced by the industry and called on the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to do more to help the agricultural sector.
Members voiced concern that unreasonable delays in payments of SFP are having a distressing effect on farm families, and agreed the Agri-Food Strategy Board must ensure processors pay a fair price for produce and assistance must be provided to those farmers affected by the recent bad weather. Members resolved to continue campaigning for a DARD that is fit-for-purpose and working towards securing a sustainable, profitable future for the agricultural industry.