O’Neill highlights her support for hill farmers in the Assembly
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has outlined the current support available from her Department for hill farmers, whilst recognising the unique challenges such farmers face.
~ Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Responding to an Assembly motion on the issue, Minister O’Neill said: “I believe that keeping people on the land is essential for preserving the social fabric of rural life. Hill farmers face many challenges yet they form a key part of our rural communities as well as being custodians of our unique landscape.
“A range of support is available from my Department to help hill farmers, from our rapid response to the difficulties arising from the unseasonable weather in March, the subsidies available from Single Farm Payment, agri environment schemes and the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances Scheme as well as opportunities for modernisation and diversification through the current Rural Development Programme. Support also exists via the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, with a range of courses on offer to help hill farmers, as well as a team of dedicated professional and technical staff who will listen to farmers and provide them with the appropriate guidance and support.”
The Minister concluded: “I fully recognise the difficulties faced by hill farmers. I will continue to explore opportunities to support the sustainability of farming on land classified as less favoured areas, in particular through my involvement with the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform negotiations. I want to ensure that we have a CAP that is flexible at a regional level that allows me to be responsive to the unique needs of groups like hill farmers that the Assembly has discussed here today.”
Notes to editors:
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