Jordan Armstrong, the TUV’s Assembly Candidate for East Londonderry has challenged DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill over comment she made recently relating to the upcoming referendum on the UK leaving the European Union
Mr Armstrong said: “At their recent conference at the Balmoral Hotel, Sinn Fein DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill commented:
“European exit would be disastrous for agriculture and rural communities and that “our agri-food sector would be worse off under Brexit”.
“These comments ignore the reality of leaving the EU.
“2015 was a year of volatility and sever financial pressure for farmers across the board. The oversupply into EU markets was hindering the essential price farmers needed to make good value on their produce.
“Volatility is something which needs to be addressed to allow farmers to have the confidence to invest for the future and to maintain many family farms.
“The key to future success lies not in the EU. The EU is in economic decline. When the UK first joined the EEC, the EEC accounted for 37% of world GDP. Today EU’s GDP accounts for less than 20%.
“The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Junker acknowledges this decline and the huge growth outside of the EU. Mr Junker commented :
“The European Union is not going very well. … The EU’s share of global output is falling and will soon represent just 15 per cent of worldwide gross domestic product, while 80 per cent of growth is emerging from countries outside the European Union.”
“The UK has the 5th highest GDP in the world and benefiting significantly from these emerging markets. The UK’s top export markets outside the EU are growing nearly three times faster than other key trading partners, including ROI according to the ONS (see here).
“We now live in a global marketplace and it’s essential that our farmers are able to take the best advantage of that. This will be outside the EU, which would give us the ability to strike our own deals with these emerging markets, getting the best possible profits for their produce. Leaving the EU will also give us our own seat at the WTO, which will give us more influence to strengthen our economy and put more money into the pockets of farmers.
“With regards to so-called EU grants it is important to remember that payments farmers currently receive from EU represent nothing more than a small proportion of our own money back.
“The UK has a strong economic ability to charter is own future without the dictatorship and shackles of the EU, we’re better off out!”