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O’Neill concerned by fall in farm incomes

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill expressed her concern and disappointment at the fall in agricultural income for 2012, indicated by DARD figures published today.
Thursday, 31 January 2013

Commenting on the figures, the Minister, said: “It could be argued that the income estimates published today merely confirm what everyone in the farming community already knows - that 2012 was an exceptionally difficult year for farmers. However, the sheer scale of the fall in incomes is both shocking and deeply concerning.”

The Minister added: “During 2012, a number of factors converged to produce what can only be described as a toxic combination. On top of poor weather conditions throughout much of the growing season, we had a rise in feed costs and a strengthening of Sterling against the Euro which both adversely affected Single Farm Payment receipts and held back producer prices.”

The Minister continued: “As painful as these events have been, we have to accept that world cereal harvests, local weather conditions and exchange rate movements are factors which fall completely outside our control. Therefore, it is imperative that we continue to build an industry that has the strength and resilience to withstand such set-backs.

“The 2012 farm income figures clearly demonstrate that we continue to need a strong, well funded CAP that provides support and drives competitiveness without drowning us all with red tape, and I am committed to fighting for these outcomes in the ongoing CAP reform negotiations. However, I also recognise that in the longer term, a heavy reliance on CAP creates a strategic vulnerability for the industry, as we are extremely exposed to any changes in the support framework. That is something we must also address”.

The Minister concluded: “I very much hope that this year will see a marked improvement in the fortunes of the industry and that we can once again turn our attention to the longer term challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I want to play my part and look forward to working with the industry-led Agri-Food Strategy Board in building an industry that is robust outward looking and self reliant and which offers scope and opportunity for those who wish to develop their businesses and careers in this sector. That is an imperative for us all.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The provisional 2012 agricultural income figures were issued today by DARD Statistical Press Release, Number 021/13.
  2. For media enquiries please contact DARD Press Office 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office Out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.