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Optimism for agri-food sector despite difficulties

Published: 22 Nov 2012 13:000 comments

The Ulster Farmers' Union in Fermanagh marked their annual dinner in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen on Friday evening with a welcome for the President, Mr. Harry Sinclair and the Chairmen of the other counties and their partners from the Fermanagh Chairman, Mr. Andrew Wilson.

Harold Hamilton sharing a laugh with James and Elvira Murphy.

The event was addressed by the President, who related to the significance of this week's meeting of the Heads of the EU Members States who are meeting to-day and tomorrow(Thursday and Friday) where they will be aiming to agree a budget.

The budget needs to be agreed before the CAP Reform proposals are further discussed.

There had been optimism that the proposals would be agreed during the first six months of 2013 when Ireland holds the Presidency.

Speaking ahead of this week, Mr. Sinclair said there was unlikely to be any agreement on the budget leaving a difficult timescale within the first six months of 2013 for the Republic and their Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, to act as hosts of the Presidency and secure an agreement.

The President referred to the EU Farm Commissioner's visit to Northern Ireland and said it had obviously made an impact on him. The Commissioner, Dalcian Ciolos, mentioned his visit to Northern Ireland three times in his speech at a recent conference of farming organisations.

The UFU President said, however, that the future was bright for the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland.

He also referred to the new safety partnership initiative, and the recent farm tragedies where there were more deaths on farms.

He said they did not want any more regulations on farms but that farming must be a safer occupation for all.

Referring to the National Park issue, he said the Fermanagh Lakelands was one of the target preferred areas of the Environment Minister, Alex Attwood.

However the mood among Northern Ireland farmers was very clearly against the designation of national parks. He also said that Fermanagh UFU had rejected the idea to the Assembly's Environment Committee when they met in Enniskillen.

The UFU President also referred to a trip during the summer to help officially open a second school in Uganda, paid for by funds raised by the Ulster Farmers' Union. He said the children were so appreciative of the farmers' support.

He also reported to the those attending the dinner, that membership of the UFU was continuing to grow.

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