Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has met with the European Union’s Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan to discuss the difficulties currently being experienced by all sectors of Northern Ireland’s agricultural industry.
Mr. Nicholson said:
“The main focus of my meeting with Commissioner Hogan was the difficult situation currently facing Northern Ireland’s farmers and to explore what options are available from the EU to assist our local agricultural industry. We discussed the pressure being felt by beef, lamb, pig and cereal farmers at this time due to a range of factors including the weak euro.
“In relation to the crisis in the dairy sector an increase in intervention prices is needed to put a floor in the market. This action would send a clear signal to the market that the Commission is willing to support the industry.
The Commissioner did however confirm that reviewing intervention levels will take time due to the nature of the European decision making process. Even in the best case scenario, with unanimous backing by Member States in Council and MEPs in Parliament, the timeline is likely to be 12 months.
“During the meeting Commissioner Hogan made it clear that both he and the Commission are working around the clock to find and examine other ways to help the agricultural industry in both the short and long term. Farmers do, however, need to see this work backed up with meaningful action being taken at the EU level.
“It is clear that both national and regional governments also have roles to play in supporting the industry. That is why the extraordinary meeting of the EU’s Agriculture Ministers which has been scheduled for 7 September is so important.
“This week’s meeting with Commissioner Hogan was a welcome opportunity to directly brief him on the scale and nature of the difficulties facing Northern Ireland’s farmers ahead of the crucial meeting of Ministers next month and before the European Parliament reconvenes after summer recess.”