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Assembly Committee puts your Views at the Heart of its Work and Expresses Concern on Recent Flooding

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 25 October 2011

Reference: AGR 07/11/12

Listening to the views of local farmers, fishermen, food producers and those living and working in rural areas was top of the agenda at the Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development meeting today. The Committee was reviewing the feedback from local stakeholders and planning its priorities.

Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chairperson, Paul Frew MLA said: “We are very grateful to everyone who got in touch with us. It has been very useful to hear first-hand what the main issues are facing those involved in the agriculture and rural development industries. This has helped the Committee confirm its priorities.

Growing the agri-food sector, food security, animal disease and CAP reform were among the top issues mentioned. The Committee has already undertaken work on a number of these issues but we will take this opportunity to revisit these and will continue to raise our concerns with the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill. In addition, the Committee will also examine a range of issues affecting the social wellbeing of rural communities.

On rural development issues, the Committee will be hosting a stakeholder event early 2012 on Axis 3 of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme.”

During the meeting the Committee also received a briefing from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on non-compliance with EU regulations in regards to single farm payments.

The Committee also expressed concern about the recent flooding in Northern Ireland.

Speaking on the flooding issue the Committee Deputy Chairperson, Dolores Kelly MLA said “The Committee acknowledges that a number of government agencies, across a number of government departments, have responsibilities and the Committee wants to be assured that all that should be done, is being done. The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to ask for details of how the Executive is working together to address the issue, what lessons have been learned from previous incidents and what specific actions the Rivers Agency has taken in recent weeks.”

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