28 January 2000
Farmers to protest at Stormont
By FWi staff
THOUSANDS of farmers will descend on the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday (1 February) to protest at the deepening crisis in the agricultural industry.
The mass rally, organised by the Ulster Farmers Union, is timed to coincide with a debate on the crisis at the Stormont assembly.
Having instigated the assembly debate, the 12,000-strong UFU is attempting to rally support from rural councils, industry and other groups with an interest in the problems facing the countryside.
Demonstrators want to show assembly members the strength of feeling on the crisis and ask them to support the industry.
Farm incomes have fallen 80% in five years and farmers are in debt to the tune of 520 million.
UFU president Will Taylor said: “Enough is enough. I am urging men, women and children to join the rally and highlight the catastrophe in the rural economy of Northern Ireland.
The BSE beef export ban, the strength of Sterling, the widening gap between retail and farmgate prices and red tape are cited by the UFU as body blows to the industry.
Mr Taylor added: “Society is faced with a stark choice of saving or ignoring our farm industry.
“Solutions to the industrys problems can be achieved but only if there is a strong desire to save the local industry.”
Meanwhile, on Friday (28 January) farmers group the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association met with meat processors to discuss the groups pickets at processing plants earlier in the week.
The NIAPA is protesting about the prices beef farmers receive and are calling for abattoirs to match prices paid in Great Britain.