Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen has said that following last night’s referendum decision by the UK to quit the EU, she will defend the interests of the Northern Ireland agri-food industry in future discussions about support for the sector.
Speaking after the historic result in the EU referendum, the Minister said: “My top priority is to ensure our agri-food industry, rural communities and environment stakeholders make the best of this new opportunity.
“Although we have voted to leave, this will not take effect until the UK Government has negotiated a withdrawal treaty with the EU. This negotiation will take a number of years to complete. It is important to state that the EU support for our farmers and our current trading arrangements, will remain in place during that time.
“We have time to negotiate new arrangements with respect to trade in goods and services with the EU and the rest of the world. And we have time to develop and implement better systems for providing support to farmers. I believe this represents a new opportunity for the industry and that it is up to us to make the best of that new opportunity. High on my list of priorities is the need to ensure that Northern Ireland farmers receive the support they need and are properly represented when our new UK payment systems are being devised,” said Miss McIlveen.
“I will be working to ensure that the interests of our agri-food industry are properly considered in new UK trade negotiations so it can capitalise on its new freedom from bureaucracy and red-tape and is in a position to take full advantage of the growing demand for food that will flow from the continuing growth of the world population.”
The Minister concluded: “The people of the UK have voted to take control of their own future outside of the European Union. The EU had an impact across many areas of my portfolio and I appreciate that it has been difficult to plan ahead when there was uncertainty about the outcome of the referendum. That uncertainty has now been removed. I will work to ensure that we reap the benefits.”