HL Deb 10 November 1999 vol 606 cc162-3WA
Lord Eames

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to address the particular fears of the Northern Ireland farming community over the current beef and pig crisis and the loss of morale among the farming community in Northern Ireland [HL4434]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

The Government are fully aware of the serious difficulties facing all sectors of the agricultural industry in Northern. Ireland and throughout the UK. Following their £150 million financial aid package to UK agriculture announced on 20 September 1999, which benefited primarily the beef and sheep sectors, the Government announced a further £5 million marketing assistance package on 28 October 1999, with the intention that the pig sector would benefit significantly from this new money. These measures represent a considerable commitment to the agricultural industry in the face of many other competing demands on the public purse. We are also doing everything to encourage the use of UK products and to ensure that people know the origins of the produce they are buying.

I will continue to work closely with the industry and its representatives to explore all possible solutions to the current difficulties and the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland will pursue its programme of increasing the competitiveness of the agri-food industry, for example, by ensuring it avails of EU assistance for education and training and improvements in marketing and processsing, and in promoting off-farm opportunities through its Rural Development Programme.