Ulster Unionist agriculture spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson MLA made her comments alongside party colleague and NILGA Agriculture Committee Member, Councillor Bert Wilson.
She said: “Young farmers are the future of our industry and for a future to exist for them I firmly believe that we need urgent action to lay the groundwork now, a groundwork which ensures primarily that farming pays and that fair prices are received by all, including farmers, processors and retailers for the long term benefit of the Northern Ireland economy as a whole.
“The job is considerable; however many farmers across Northern Ireland could be forgiven for feeling that DARD is simply not up to the task.
Many feel that DARD prioritises policing and paperwork far too much rather than the practical steps which it should be taking in order to help our local farmers to prepare for a stable and profitable future.”
Councillor Bert Wilson also raised the issue of allowing farmers the freedom to develop on their land by again calling for a common sense approach to PPS21, Sustainable Development in the Countryside.
The Omagh Councillor said: “I firmly believe that the restrictive aspects of PPS21 are pushing farmers and their families off their farms and into urban areas instead.
This is having the drip feed effect of an exodus from the countryside which only seeks to help those who want to close our rural schools and remove services upon which rural dwellers depend.
“PPS21 is totally prohibitive to farmers who may be fully prepared to build on their own land but are not allowed to do so because of this restrictive planning regulation.
A common sense approach is urgently required to avoid long-term damage to the Northern Ireland agricultural industry and would also lead to many knock-on benefits for our local economy, not least the construction industry which has for far too long been experiencing extreme difficulties.
“The Ulster Unionist Party has long called on successive Environment Ministers to relax this regulation for the benefit of farmers and their families who wish to remain in and continue to farm the countryside of Northern Ireland.”