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Farmers take protests to European Commission office in Belfast

Frustration is boiling over once again because of price concerns.


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FFA Belfast protest
FFA Belfast protest

Protests against falling farm produce prices have taken a different direction, this time to the European Commission office in central Belfast.

 

Up to 70 farmers staged a peaceful protest outside office on Monday urging Brussels to step in and help solve the current farming crisis.

 

Although a token protest, the message to European Commission President Juncker was clear; if Europe does not help, farming families will be out of business and out of their homes.

 

Collette Fitzgerald is the head of the EC office in Belfast. She said: “The Commission is well aware of the difficulties farmers are facing. Even though some Member States are worse off than others we are engaging with them all to listen what is going on in each region.

 

“We welcome this peaceful protest here today. Farmers are entitled to make their case.”

 

Colette has been head of the EC office in Belfast for the past three years.

 

She said: “We are in constant touch with Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan and are keeping him updated on the crisis.

 

“Indeed, the Commissioner visited Northern Ireland only a few weeks after he was appointed and understands the region’s farming sector very well.

 

“The Commission is ready to engage, not just in Northern Ireland, but all over the European Union to address this ongoing problem.

 

“I hope there is a great deal of positive news comes from the council meeting of Ministers on September 7, not just for the dairy sector but for all sectors.”

 

Farmers travelled from as far as County Tyrone to join the protest. Young farmers Andrew and Stephen Sterling supported the event with Alex Bayne.

 

Andrew said: “We need a future. We got fed up sitting back doing nothing so decided to join the protest action. Something needs to be done to help the industry and fast.”

 

William Taylor is the Northern Ireland co-ordinator of Farmers For Action. He said: “Farming families are on their knees financially. We have reports of some living on beans and toast and some other families in County Down living off food banks.

 

“That is a crazy situation. The EC president Jean-Claude Juncker as well as the EU must face facts.

 

“They must realise that if the European Commission does not help us, farmers and their families will be forced out of the industry.

 

“We delivered a letter to the head of the EC Belfast office addressed to President Juncker highlighting the difficulties we are under.

 

“Every sector in the industry in hurting and the European Union has the tools to help us. Now they must before it is too late,” said Mr Taylor.


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