Sinn Féin MLA and vice chair of the Agriculture, Environment and Rural affairs committee, Philip McGuigan has criticised DUP Minister, Edwin Poots, for labelling an assembly supported call for increased support for beef and sheep farmers as divisive.
Mr. McGuigan said;
“The Minister has been given a £25million package to support our agriculture and horticulture sectors through the Covid19 pandemic. It was clear from the Assembly committee’s consultation across the farming sectors that the Minister’s initial proposals for the allocation of the money to diary and beef finishing sectors was totally unsatisfactory.
“Sinn Féin brought a motion to the Assembly calling on the Minister to include sheep and beef farmers in any financial package. Financial loses as a result of reduced prices, particularly at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis as a result of mart closures as well as a reduced market along with higher input prices have meant many beef and sheep farmers are struggling at the minute.
“The motion was an attempt to convey to the Minister that any financial package must be fair and equitable to all farming sectors who have experienced loses as a result of the pandemic. It was quite ludicrous for the Minister to label the Assembly debate divisive and seemed to be an attempt by him to distract from the lack of support for his initial proposal which in reality could be deemed divisive.
“The fact that the motion succeeded and was supported by Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance, Greens, UUP and PBP is evidence that not only was the Ministers comments way off the mark but so to was his initial proposal on how to allocate this £25million financial package.”