Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Monday, 8 October 2012 17:20 UK

Crisis in farming

The Agriculture Minister announced that she would make an extra £15m available to farmers through the Single Farm Payment (SFP), on 8 October 2012.

This would be achieved by reducing the amount of "modulation" money usually taken from the SFP to pay for rural development schemes

Michelle O'Neill was replying to an Agriculture Committee motion on the crisis in farming.

The DUP's Paul Frew said the industry was under severe strain for a number of reasons.

These included high prices for fertilisers, animal feeds and fuel, low prices paid by retailers and bad weather.

Mr Frew called on the minister to acknowledge the position of farmers and to alleviate the short-term pressures.

Oliver McMullan of Sinn Fein echoed Paul Frew's sentiments.

"The one person that is suffering all the time is the farmer," he commented.

Ulster Unionist Joanne Dobson said the debate was "extremely important for every single farming family in Northern Ireland".

She said she understood the problems as she was a beef farmer herself.

Sean Rogers of the SDLP said it was untrue that milk producers were unaffected.

"If you are receiving 29 pence per litre and it costs 39 pence per litre to produce it just doesn't add up," he observed.

Jim Allister of the TUV accused the Agriculture Minister of "foot-dragging".

The minister expressed her sympathy with the farmers' difficulties.

"I absolutely share the concerns about increased production costs," she said.

The motion was carried on an oral vote.

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