In Northern Ireland, farmers in all sectors are combining, commissioning fact-finding research, and entering effectively into dialogue with Stormont, before forthcoming elections.
UTV reports that these farming campaign groups asked economist Paul Gosling to study the financial crisis facing the local agriculture sector.
His research found that incomes from dairy farming in the UK fell by 5% during 2014, pig farm incomes dropped by almost a quarter, and poultry farms by almost a fifth. Northern Ireland farm incomes in general fell 17% during the same period – figures don’t add up for a sustainable future for the sector.
Mr Gosling summed up the situation: “The main finding is that the farming industry is in crisis. You have so many farmers that are unable to make ends meet, real poverty in many farming families and as a result of that far fewer people who are able to run farms in the foreseeable future. It’s just not a sustainable industry as it’s currently operating.”
A law to make sure they get paid enough to cover their production costs
Farmers want Stormont to bring in a law to make sure they get paid enough to cover their production costs, something which they said isn’t happening now. But such legislation is likely to face opposition from the EU as it would give Northern Ireland farmers an advantage.
The report claimed that up to 10,000 jobs could be directly created in agriculture if Stormont ensures farmers are paid enough to cover production costs. With an election in the coming months, they are calling for politicians to take urgent action to protect the sector.
William Taylor from Farmers For Action said: “It’s not just about milk, right across the market they’re not getting the price of production and farmers are going out of business. In the future I could see farming going to the wall.”
Read the Gosling report here: http://www.paulgosling.net/2016/01/on-the-eve-of-destruction-a-report-on-northern-irelands-farming-sector/