Republican News · Thursday 18 January 2001

[An Phoblacht]

Unionists diluting impact of milk quotas

Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson, Fermanagh and South Tyrone's Gerry McHugh, has criticised unionist members of the Assembly's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee for diluting the impact of the milk quotas in relieving the financial crisis facing small farmers.

McHugh accused unionists of being unhappy that the milk quota allocation was targeted towards small farmers. ``I would remind them that while the entire industry is suffering from the crisis in agriculture, it is the small farmer who suffering hardest,'' he said. ``The milk quotas were designed to Target Social Need, in line with commitments from all of the departments.

McHugh warned that the unionist demand to raise the quota level to bring more people within its remit will cause a delay in milk quota allocation and dilute the intended impact. ``Their actions will result in the allocation of milk quotas in this financial cycle being lost,'' he said.

``We run the very real risk of getting bogged down in bureaucracy and the committee and in particular the chairperson are seriously in danger of over complicating a straightforward issue. Ian Paisley is clearly pushing to extend the milk quotas so that larger farmers benefit. The result will be that the overall level of benefit derived from this measure becomes negligible.''

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