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UFU Oppose Farm Modernisation Scheme Delivery Proposals

01 February 2010

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says it will oppose the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) proposals for the delivery of the second Tranche of the Farm Modernisation Scheme. The UFU says DARD have failed to consult properly and have put forward a plan which will significantly disadvantage a large proportion of potential applicants.

The EU Commission have insisted that the Scheme’s Tranche One ‘first come first served’ approach must be amended to incorporate an applicant selection mechanism in Tranche Two.

UFU President Graham Furey said: “I am very concerned at how DARD is handling this very important issue. There has been no consultation with industry on how the second Tranche of the Farm Modernisation Scheme could be developed. This is not good enough; over 400 UFU Policy Committee members have spent many hours deliberating on how a fair and effective delivery mechanism can be developed for the Farm Modernisation Scheme. However DARD ha failed to meet the UFU to hear our views, despite our repeated requests since last October for an official meeting. Instead DARD have presented what appears to be an unacceptable ‘eleventh hour fait accompli’ to the industry”. 

Mr Furey said the UFU were totally opposed to key elements of the DARD proposals. He said; “DARD has proposed that applications should be selected, based on a weighted scoring mechanism, which in our assessment will significantly disadvantage many applicants. The UFU has developed proposals which we believe would allow as many farmers as possible equal access to this important funding. In contrast DARD has proposed a scoring mechanism with applicants in Less Favoured Areas scoring heavily while lowland farmers would receive no points in this category. This blatantly disadvantages lowland producers, despite the fact that they too contribute to Modulation funding which underpins the scheme and have an equal need to continue the process of modernising their businesses. In effect all lowland producers are being denied a fair and equitable opportunity and will now be virtually excluded from Modernisation Funding. All UFU Policy Committee’s, including our Hill Farming Committee agree that land classification should not be used as a criterion”.

The UFU also outlined concerns about DARD proposals to weight the extent to which individual grant items have a ‘modernising effect’. The UFU says this has the potential to add further problems to the scheme implementation and the Union is seeking more details from DARD. 

Mr Furey concluded that UFU representatives will be attending next weeks NI Rural Development Programme Monitoring Committee when DARD will present their proposals in the presence of an EU Commission Official. He confirmed that the UFU would strongly oppose the proposals.

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