Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president, Ivor Ferguson, has urged the Department Agriculture to prioritise Northern Ireland’s application for ‘BSE negligent status’ to help improve the finances of the local beef industry.
Stating that the sector was experiencing sustained downward pressure on prices, hitting producer incomes and confidence he said current returns from the market were “simply not sustainable”.
“With the CAP transitional payment system likely to be most severe on beef producers we must be pro-active.
“We need to look at ways we can harness more value for the industry, return more money to farmers and reduce rendering costs.”
A big opportunity open to the industry was for DARD to apply to the World Health Organisation in 2016 for official ‘BSE negligent’ status.
“There is only one chance to do this each year. That is why a concerted effort must be made by DARD to make this happen,” said Mr Ferguson. “The industry is fully behind this and is ready to provide support where it can - but ultimately we are reliant on DARD to make this happen,” he said.
“The challenge for DARD now is whether they are prepared to take immediate action and back the industry over one of the biggest opportunities available to it for a long time,” he said.