National Beef Association
For everyone with an interest in the British beef industry

20/05/2010    

Press Release - Will Dard Decision Damage Rural Recovery

WILL DARD DECISION DAMAGE RURAL RECOVERY?

DARD risks damaging rural recovery from recession by an ill judged decision to hamper marts operating outside civil service ‘ normal office hours.’

The view of the National Beef Association as DARD seeks to save money by refusing to have staff on duty to handle queries arising when stock are offered for sale at marts on Saturdays.

“Any farmer in the country can suggest numerous ways of cutting DARD spending that would have zero impact on the rural economy so why this short sighted move?”  NBA NI chairman Oisin Murnion asks.

“On one hand the regional Minister and her advisors say they are out to develop the rural economy and promote businesses other than agriculture in the countryside.

“On the other hand we have these same officials making a decision that will harm those very farmers, who have sought off farm employment or diversified into another enterprise.

"How does the Minister think these families are going to buy and sell stock if marts cannot operate on a Saturday and, as seems likely, during evenings? Offering a handful of civil servants time in lieu for providing cover on Saturday and evenings when marts operate will have minimal impact on the public purse. Far better to save elsewhere in a government department said to have one administrator for every eight active farm businesses.

“Newly elected David Cameron says civil servants must play a key role in providing conditions in which the economy operates efficiently to generate income that is taxed to cover public service costs.

“Thus the NBA urges DARD to avoid discriminating against many of the 19,000 small and medium sized farmers in NI, who are not free to attend marts during ‘normal’ civil service hours. Auctioneers have already protested about a proposal totally divorced from the economic realities of rural life.

“Indeed some may wonder if this is a move by DARD policy makers to ensure many farmers can only sell finished stock to meat plants?

“ As farmers we live, work and compete in a 24/7 economy trying to cope with a recession and ruinous levels of government debt.

“Therefore the NBA calls on regional farm Minister Gildernew to ensure civil servants are used to service the industry, not langel it in ruinous red tape,” added Oisin.

“Farmers and auctioneers must be free to do their business so it is up to public servants to do their duty and provide a service when required. Are marts as far apart as Hilltown, Clogher and Swatragh, for example, to have their main day of business stymied by a plain daft DARD decision?

“Ministers have tough decisions to make, but they most be logical decisions based on the need to re-grow our rural economy. Cuts alone never made a business better.”