HC Deb 08 September 2004 vol 424 cc709-10
8. Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the impact of the enlargement of the European Union on smaller family farms in Northern Ireland. [187650]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Ian Pearson)

There is expected to be little impact of enlargement on smaller family farms in Northern Ireland in the short to medium term. Competitive pressures from the new member states are forecast to increase only gradually, and, of course, enlargement brings the potential of new export opportunities for farms of all sizes.

Mr. O'Brien

I appeal to my hon. Friend for greater consideration and assistance to be given to small family farms in Northern Ireland, particularly in relation to pensions and other benefits, which many people will enjoy, but which some of those small farmers will be denied. Will he give serious consideration to the impact on small farms of the enlargement of the European Community?

Mr. Pearson

I appreciate my hon. Friend's comments. Farming is going through a major process of transformation, with the mid-term review of the common agricultural policy and issues such as enlargement. The Department is doing a lot to support farming families. We will continue to review that, and we will take on board my hon. Friend's comments.