[Sinn Fein]

5th February 2003

Ferris: `Crisis In Agriculture Needs To Be Addressed'

The Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, Martin Ferris TD, spoke today in the Dáil on the serious crisis facing Irish farmers at the present time. Among the issues which he referred to were the sharp falls in income, the effects of this years budgetary cutbacks, and the apparent exclusion of farmers representatives from the final phase of the talks on a new Social Partnership deal.

Deputy Ferris said;

``I am only too well aware from meeting with farmers in my own constituency that the sector is in serious crisis at the present moment. Income levels have continued to fall and this has placed thousands more farmers on the poverty line or facing having to leave farming. This has been compounded by the cutbacks in Government investment in agriculture.

``While paying lip service to the notion of modernising farming, the most severe cuts are in education and research, rural development, and in schemes designed to assist the entry of younger farmers. This Government has reneged on the promises it made during the election, and has failed to come up with a coherent long term strategy or a serious negotiating position entering into the current CAP reform.''

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