Committee ready to challenge
Date: 08 June 2007
Reference: AGR 05/07
The Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development. Michelle Gildernew MP is due to announce her decision on the voluntary modulation rates for Northern Ireland farmers on Monday, 11 June 2007 in the Assembly. These rates will determine how much is taken out of Single Farm Payments to fund the Rural Development Programme.
Earlier this week, the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development quizzed the Minister about voluntary modulation rates and left her in no doubt that any increase whatsoever would be unacceptable to the vast majority of the farming community. The Committee pressed the Minister to seek additional funding from other Departments and Agencies who have key inputs to the Rural Development Programme.
Just a week after the Committee raised the issue, the Minister has announced £80,000 compensation for those farmers who had cattle slaughtered because of a positive alpha-nortestosterone test but it is now accepted that this hormone frequently occurs naturally in animals. The Committee is pleased that its pressure has produced results for those farmers who had to live with unfounded accusations of illegally administering hormones to their animals.
Dr William McCrea MP, Committee Chairperson said:
“The Committee put straight questions to the Minister last Tuesday and will challenge her again in the House if she announces any increases to the voluntary modulation rates. The farming community can only take so much and it is time for a reversal in their lot. As shown with the illegal hormone issue, this Committee will speak out until someone listens.
The Committee will next meet on Tuesday 12 June 2007 at 2.00pm in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.