Dobson urges New Year help for farmers


Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has said the Agriculture Minister’s New Year’s Resolution must be to help, not hinder farmers

She said: “A New Year should bring with it renewed hopes and the opportunity for many resolutions and I hope the Minister makes a resolution to help our farmers in 2016.

“However in farm yards across Northern Ireland a New Year means only one thing, paying the previous year’s Tax Bill - leading to further worry and financial anxiety amongst already anxious farming families.”

The Ulster Unionist Party Agriculture Spokesperson has been meeting up with farmers across the Christmas period to discuss their priorities for 2016.

Mrs Dobson said: “Time and time again I hear from farmers who will struggle to pay their Tax bill at the end of this month and I fear without help some will face financial ruin. “Times are tough and despite the current downturn in farming profits many businesses will still be faced with large tax bills from last year which must be paid by the end of January. Whilst Tax Averaging will help some it needs to be carefully managed and receiving sound financial advice is always important.

“With a few exceptions practically all sectors of the agri-food industry have been in crisis throughout 2015, however the bills which farmers now face stretch back to 2014. I fear from speaking to many over the Christmas period that this could spell the end of some farming businesses which stretch back many generations.

“Without the right level of assistance farming families across Northern Ireland will continue to face hardship – no one could be expected to continue to work whilst receiving below production prices for their produce and unless 2016 sees an upturn in farm gate prices the situation for many will continue to go from bad to worse.”