Standing room only as farmers voice alarm over payment cuts

Farmers meeting DG 3

OUT IN FORCE…The farming community of Fermanagh attend Thursday’s meeting in Derrygonnelly Community Centre

THE farming community here is united in opposition to proposed  cuts to their CAP (Common Agricultural Practice) payments.

That was the message from Derrygonnelly where there was standing room only when up to 700  people attended a meeting at the local community hall.


The meeting confirmed the universal Fermanagh opposition to a CAP deal which would see Northern Ireland divided into two regions and local SDA (Severely Disadvantaged Area) farmers facing cuts of around £100 per hectare of land.

Those in attendance gave their support to a Single Farm Payment regime, with a commitment to a flat rate single-farm payment system post 2015.

There was also total opposition expressed to the principle of introducing a coupled payment for suckler cows and breeding sheep in the Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDA).

The united front by local farmers was evident when a showof hands was asked for to indicate support for the UFU strategy – not one person in the room raised their hand.

On arrival, each person in attendance was handed a sheet referencing four questions taken from DARD’s current CAP consultation document.
These covered the issues of regionality, flat rate payments, the use of Pillar 1 funds to support Areas of Natural constraint and the re-introduction of coupled payments.

Farmers were encouraged to give their views on the proposals and after the meeting these were submitted to DARD as part of their current consultation process

The meeting was chaired by Peter Gallagher from Boho,of the newly formed SDA Support Group.


He spoke of a lack of information getting through to farmers on the ground and stated that many were unaware that they could have a say in the reform of CAP and their single farm payment into 2015 and beyond.

He closed by stating: “It is clear that we as a committee believe that their latest proposal is not keeping within the interests of the most vulnerable areas of Northern Ireland.”

Norman Fulton from DARD spoke next and gave details on the range of future CAP support measures that could be implemented here. His presentation was well-received, with local UFU representative John Sheridan praising the research and evidence presented by Mr Fulton.

Mr Sheridan spoke next and  stated that should these proposals be introduced farmers in the SDA would be ‘victimised’ and spoke of the anger among farmers who he feel they are being treated as ‘second class citizens’.

He expressed opposition to the proposal of introducing an additional payment for suckler cows, which he believes will make little or no difference to profitability of suckler beef production and would tie farmers to keeping cows they may not wish to retain for sound management reasons.

On the night there were a number of speakers from various organisations including South Down Hill Farmers  association and representatives from the National Beef and National Sheep Associations who spoke on the night in response to the proposals and consultation.

Mr Sheridan believed the meeting was a success in increasing awareness and was impressed by the numbers who turned out in opposition to the proposals.

“We’re here to speak for the SDA farmers and help our neighbours and we will see what can be got out of it.”

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