‘Task force needed to restore upland farms’ – Ritchie

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Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has argued for the implementation of a task force to deal with the restoration and renewal of upland farms. Ritchie was speaking recently during an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on the effect of weather conditions on upland sheep farmers. Speaking to Newry Times, she stated, “This debate provided an essential opportunity to put forward my concerns regarding the challenges faced by upland farmers in my constituency who were badly affected by the recent snowfall. “In particular upland farmers in the Mournes and in Slieve Croob suffered devastating loss of livestock and collapsed livestock sheds. I travelled through tunnels of snow to visit a number of farmers and on one particular farm I saw about 29 ewes and lambs under a tarpaulin that were sadly all dead. “Given the unique bond that exists between the farmers and their sheep we need a particular task force to deal with the restoration and renewal of upland farms for upland farmers. Ritchie added, “As a member of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee I will be pushing hard for all farmers suffering as a result of the extreme weather conditions particularly for upland farmers who are vulnerable within the agricultural industry. “The government must look to the European Union for any unspent rural development moneys to help regenerate upland farms and bare it in mind when it comes to negotiating the terms of the Common Agricultural Policy reform.”
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