Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has met with farmers from the new Antrim SDA Group to discuss her planned proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Minister O’Neill said the meeting at Parliament Buildings Stormont provided her with an opportunity to hear at first hand the concerns of those farmers who will be directly affected by decisions on CAP reform.
Minister O’Neill said: “I have held several meetings with farmers and representatives on CAP reform and I believe it was important to meet with this group and hear at first hand their views on the use of sub-regions and movement towards flat rate support.
“Among many issues raised, the group of hill farmers put their views strongly in relation to the need to address the imbalance in the current system thereby assisting with the sustainability of hill farming.
“My Department’s consultation on the Policy Options arising from the Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (Pillar I Direct Payments) has now closed and I am greatly encouraged by the very significant number of responses received, more than 850, from a wide range of individuals and organisations. The introduction of the new Pillar I Direct Payments system is obviously a subject which is of great importance to farmers and landowners in the north.
“I will now take time to consider all the responses carefully before I take decisions on implementation over the next few months in preparation for notification to the EU Commission in August 2014. Furthermore, I am still awaiting the finalisation of further delegated legislation from the European Commission which may impact on the decisions that need to be taken.”