Magherafelt councillor raises plight of Sperrins farmers with Minister

Brian McGuigan
Brian McGuigan

Magherafelt Sinn Féin councillor, Brian McGuigan has said that he fully supports the campaign recently launched in Derrygonnelly (Co. Fermanagh) by a group of farmers representing those in Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDA).

Cllr McGuigan welcomed the strong presence of his party colleagues, Phil Flanagan MLA (Fermanagh & South Tyrone) and other leading elected representatives at the Derrygonnely meeting which saw well over 400 people present.

“Sinn Féin were delighted to attend this meeting, to hear first-hand the concerns of farmers about the potential outworkings of the proposals suggested by the Ulster Farmers Union, particularly the suggestions that the North should be divided into sub-regions for the purpose of CAP funding and that the north will not move to a flat rate of payment by 2019, as was previously proposed,” he said.

“Sinn Féin, which was well represented at the meeting, fully supports SDA farmers and aims to ensure a viable, fair and sustainable funding stream for SDA farmers. This is despite the best efforts of some farmers groups and indeed political parties to protect large farmers in good land areas at the expense of small, SDA based farmers.

“It is clear that there is a lack of representation amongst SDA based farmers in some farmers groups.

“In order to address this current problem, I raised this issue with the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill when she was in Draperstown last week to meet with those tasked with developing our local enterprises and social economy businesses.

“I took the opportunity to ensure that Minister O’Neill is aware of the concerns of farmers in disadvantaged areas like the Sperrins and that any decisions she takes on the future of CAP payments meet the needs of farmers in the most difficult terrain, where it is most difficult to earn a living.”