Agriculture Committee Deliberates Key Issues with Westminster Committee
Date: Thursday, 12 December 2013
Reference: AGR 04/13/14
The Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development today met with the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee in London to discuss a range of significant agricultural issues common to both Committees, including reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP), plant health, food security and bovine TB.
Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chairperson, Paul Frew MLA said: “I’m very pleased that our Committee was able to meet with the EFRA Committee on common agricultural issues that affect our areas. The agrifood sector is one of Northern Ireland’s most important sectors, and a significant employer, so it is important for the Committee to keep abreast of developments in GB and the Republic.
“During the meeting, CAP reform was top of our agenda. Northern Ireland receives a huge amount of funding under CAP; approximately €500 million under the rural development programme, and, each year, the Department pays out around €300 million in single farm payments. Given the rising costs faced by our farmers, the Committee pressed home to EFRA Members the importance of the CAP from a Northern Ireland perspective and how any reforms might impact on rural life here.
Deputy Chairperson, Joe Byrne MLA said: “The meeting with the EFRA Committee gave our Committee an excellent opportunity to raise matters that it has been focusing on for some time, particularly CAP reform and food safety. We completed an intensive schedule of meetings and stressed our support for our local meat producers, alongside our support for enhanced food security measures across all regions. In our discussions on CAP reform, we focused on the challenges our farmers face and the need to ensure that they get a fair deal in any negotiations.
“The farming sector is a huge contributor to the local economy. Given that its future is so closely linked to events in GB, we must continue to take every opportunity we can to raise our farmers’ concerns there.”
Notes to Editors:
Mr Paul Frew – Chairperson
Mr Joe Byrne – Deputy Chairperson
Mr Thomas Buchanan
Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson
Mr William Irwin
Mr Declan McAleer
Mr Trevor Lunn
Miss Michelle McIlveen
Mr Oliver McMullan
Mr Ian Milne
Mr Robin Swann