MEP convinces farmers that they don't need the EU
5th December 2012
The Young Farmers Club of Ulster held a debate in the Stormont Parliament on Monday night (3rd December) where Stuart Agnew MEP (UKIP) proposed the motion 'Northern Ireland agriculture could survive outside the EU'. Opposing the motion was Campbell Tweed OBE, the former President of the Northern Ireland Farmers Union.
Before the debate, a secret poll was taken of the audience, which consisted of young farmers, older farmers and other interested parties. The results of this poll were not announced until after the debate but showed 42% in favour of the motion.
There was a spirited but good humoured debate with speakers lining up to support both sides of the argument. The real sticking point was the issue of the Single Farm Payment with Stuart Agnew maintaining that this will "inevitably diminish over time because of strong budgetary pressures and the EU's relentless expansion to the south and the east, where all these new countries will want their share of a diminishing cake." The opposition insisted that the Single Farm Payment is essential.
Mr Agnew was able to illustrate the heavy burden placed on agriculture by the EU's regulatory controls. During discussion of the EU's efforts to get farmers to reduce the methane output of their sheep and cattle, Stuart Agnew described the idea as "a load of bullocks!" There was also strong disagreement about whether or not trade with the EU could be free, if Britain regained its independence.
At the end of the debate, a further poll of the audience was taken and support for the motion had risen from 42% to 52%, with those against at 48%, giving Mr Agnew a clear win in the debate. The vote was taken by a physical division on the floor. Speaking after the debate, Mr Agnew said: "I am delighted that farmers are beginning to see the light, i.e. that there is life outside of the CAP and the dreadful EU."