29 August 2002 Edition

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Farmers need feed purchase aid scheme

Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North, Deputy Martin Ferris, has called on the Minister for Agriculture and Food to pay more attention to the needs of the farming community.

He has urged that the Ewe Premium Restriction be removed, that feed purchase schemes be introduced to counter the effects of the bad weather, and that Tralee Beef and Lamb creditors be compensated.

Under the Ewe Premium Scheme, a farmer who uses commonage is not entitled to make an application for a reserve quota. Ferris said that "this restriction, which is without foundation, is discriminatory in that it debars farmers who wish to avail of this quota from using an area of land, which for many years was of vital importance for grazing needs.

"The farming community have been affected badly this year and failure to lift this restriction will only exacerbate an already serious situation."

On the need for feed purchase schemes he said: "The chronic weather conditions over the summer months have put many farmers in a difficult position. Livelihoods are under direct threat as farmers have been unable to save fodder that would normally see them through the winter months. Urgent action is needed. In the short term, I am calling on the government to introduce a feed purchase aid scheme as quickly as possible to assist those most in need, as they did in 1998."

Martin Ferris has also asked the Minister to provide emergency compensation to those affected by the closure of Tralee Beef and Lamb. This follows the issuing of a letter to creditors saying that there are insufficient funds to pay the amount owed to both former employees and farmers who supplied cattle to the plant.

"While accepting that the closure had a disastrous effect on the local farming industry, Minister Walsh once again simply resorted to advising farmers to supply to factories that pay on the day, thus limiting farmers' exposure to the effects of a factory going into liquidation," said Ferris. "This is totally unacceptable. The Minister for Agriculture is doing his utmost to abdicate responsibility for the matter despite the failure of department officials at the plant to highlight the problems facing the company."

Ó Fuaráin to repace Ferris

Sinn Féin in Kerry has chosen Risteárd Ó Fuaráin to replace Martin Ferris on Tralee Town Council at the next meeting of the Council, which will take place on Monday, 2 September.

Ó Fuaráin has been operating in a voluntary capacity as Sinn Féin party manager in Kerry for the past number of years.

Following his selection he said: "This is a great honour for me and I am indebted to those who have placed their trust in me by selecting me for this position. I promise to repay that trust by working diligently for all of the people whom I will represent."

Martin Ferris and Cathal Foley of Tralee Town Council and Anthony Curtain of Listowel Town Council, welcomed Risteárd and said they looked forward to strengthening the Sinn Féin team in Kerry.


Hearty supports farmers' protest

Sinn Féin councillor Terry Hearty accompanied members of the South Armagh Farmers Action Group to a protest at Stormont on Friday 23 August.

"Positive action needs to be implemented by the Department to address the plight of farmers in the North," he said. "South Armagh in particular was severely hit by the outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease. The farming industry is now dominated by huge cartels which control prices and are more interested in profit than improving and sustaining the general lifestyle of the average farmer.

"In order to avert this crisis in farming we need urgently to implement incentives to demonstrate to young people especially that there is a future within the industry."

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