SOUTH Down MP Margaret Ritchie has called on the DARD Minister Michele O’Neill to back farmers who do not have SFP entitlements.
Ms Ritchie said: “The terrible weather conditions of the last twelve months and rapidly rising costs of production have demonstrated just how crucial the Single Farm Payment (SFP) is to farmers. Farm income statistics for 2012 show that without the SFP, farmers would have lost money last year. This stark information highlights the disadvantage farmers who do not receive a SFP have in developing a sustainable, profitable farm business.
‘The Minister for Agriculture must address the issue of those farmers without SFP entitlements as a matter of urgency. Provision must be made for those farmers, both new farmers and those who would have been entitled to claim SFP in 2005 but who were unaware of their entitlement to do so, to receive SFP entitlements as soon as possible.
“In response to a my representations on this issue, the Minister for Agriculture has indicated that the current CAP reform proposals contain a provision to reallocate SFP entitlements in 2014. This would be on the same basis as in 2005 in that entitlements would be allocated to the person who establish them.
“With negotiations on CAP reform ongoing, Minister O’Neill must ensure those active farmers presently without SFP entitlements are able to claim entitlements in CAP post-2014. I would urge the Minister to outline what action she is taking to protect the interests of those farmers.”