North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan has said that the rural economy would be devastated if there was any reduction in Single Farm Payments as a result of Brexit or the current review into farm support.
Mr McGuigan said:
“Last year, £286,353,338 was paid out in direct payments to farmers across the north. This is EU direct support that our farmers need in order to survive and produce high quality food at a reasonable price for consumers. It also represents over 80% of farmer’s income, so is a critical lifeline for them.
“Farmers in North Antrim received £29,080,445 in 2018 and I know from living in a rural area and engaging with farmers that this financial support is immediately spent in the local community, in shops, agriculture merchants and in supporting local services.
“Farmers don’t have the luxury of banking their savings or putting it away for a rainy day because in farming every day is a rainy day as farmers struggle to make ends meet while faced with price volatility, inclement weather and the uncertainty of Brexit.
“For our part, Sinn Féin will continue to lead the fight for the majority remain vote to be respected, we have led a diplomatic offensive throughout Europe during the past 2 years to build support for Ireland’s interests and we have made strong representations to DAERA, Defra and the funding allocation review panel.
“Sinn Féin recognises that farming is the backbone of the rural economy and is a vital part of the fabric of rural communities. We will continue to play our part in the defending the interests of our farmers and marginalised rural communities”.