Gosling Report calls for legislation on NI farmgate prices

A hard-hitting new report reflects a dire situation for family farmers across Northern Ireland (NI) and claims that legislation on farmgate prices is the only way forward.

Farmers For Action (FFA) NI and the Northern Ireland Farm Groups have commissioned the report, Farming On Life Support, from economist Paul Gosling.

It examines the economic impact of current policies, in particular the absence of protection for farmgate prices and farming incomes.

See also: Hopes raised for NI Farm Welfare Bill with Stormont reset

It concludes by arguing for legislative intervention from Stormont to protect farmers and the fair pricing of agricultural produce, noting that similar protective action is being taken elsewhere.

Doing so would have a significant positive effect on the wider NI economy and potentially create thousands of jobs, it says.

Margin needed

“There needs to be protection to ensure that farmers are paid sufficiently to meet the costs of production, linked to inflation, plus a reasonable margin of 10% or so,” the report states.

The report was delivered to Tom Elliott, a member of the legislative assembly (MLA) and chairman of the agriculture committee at Stormont, along with representatives of FFA’s steering committee on Tuesday (30 April). 

The event was well attended by MLAs, environmental and farm organisations and Daera minister for agriculture Andrew Muir, who took the time to hear Mr Gosling’s presentation of the report.

The agriculture committee later discussed the report and its advice towards the NI Farm Welfare Bill, which was the main topic of discussion for the committee.

If enacted, the bill will return farmers in Northern Ireland a minimum of the cost of production, inflation-linked, plus a margin, across all food produced on NI farms.

Family farms struggling

William Taylor, FFA NI co-ordinator, said: “The report is a hard-hitting delivery of just how bad things are for many family farmers in Northern Ireland.

“It outlines that there is precedent with other countries across Europe now taking action to kerb the out-of-control financial pressure coming down the line to the farmgate from corporate food retailers, corporate food wholesalers and corporate food processors.”

The 16-page Gosling report can be read on FFA NI’s Facebook page.

“The next step for the crucial NI Farm Welfare Bill is for it to be taken forward through the Stormont process and enacted,” added Mr Taylor.

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