NORTHERN IRELAND.Slaughter price query The DUP European candidate, Diane Dodds has questioned the slaughter prices received for cattle in Northern Ireland compared to both the Republic of Ireland and other parts of the UK. Mrs Dodds questioned why, given the differential in exchange rates between now and 12 months ago, cattle from the Republic were still receiving higher prices than those in Northern Ireland. Speaking last Friday, she said, ’Twelve months ago, farmers in the Republic were receiving around 4 pence a kilo more for their cattle than those in Northern Ireland when the exchange rate was at 78pence/Euro. Now, however, with the exchange rate at around 90 pence/euro, farmers here are still receiving less than their competitors in the Republic." She went on: "Whilst I welcome the fact that prices have risen over the last year, there still must be questions asked as to why farmers in the Republic of Ireland appear to be more competitive than those in Northern Ireland. "Given the fact that most of the Republic’s beef goes into the UK market, then the changes in the sterling/euro exchange rate over the last twelve months should have had a much greater impact upon prices in the Republic." Mrs Dodds suggested there was also an issue when one compared Northern Ireland prices with those in Scotland over the last twelve months. "This time last year, prices were close to equal in both Northern Ireland and Scotland, but now farmers in Scotland are receiving nearly 14 pence a kilo more for their cattle. "I would have to ask what exactly is causing this price differential for cattle coming from Northern Ireland." She went on: "There clearly is an issue here for the meat processors, and I would question whether Northern Ireland beef is actually subsidising the Republic of Ireland prices. Whilst prices are better for farmers than they were 12 months ago, it would appear that Northern Ireland could actually be doing better. "Some time ago now the Red Meat Taskforce highlighted the need for a significant increase in farm-gate prices for our beef farmers. There is a need for the recommendations of this Report to be followed through. " I know that we have been pressing DARD in particular to take the lead in the implementation of this Report. Whilst the gap has narrowed recently, there is still much more to be done to sustain our red meat sector in Northern Ireland."