MEP Diane Dodds has stressed the importance of the local agri-food sector, after welcoming the UK Farm Minister, George Eustice MP, to the DUP’s Rural Affairs Breakfast at La Mon Hotel at Country Club.
Mrs Dodds co-hosted the event alongside her party colleague David Simpson MP.
Commenting, she said: “This week’s event provided a unique opportunity for the DUP and local agri-stakeholders to lobby and influence the UK Farm Minister George Eustice MP on the needs for Northern Ireland agriculture and environment in the post-Brexit era. It was the second time the Minister has accepted our invitation to visit our Province, and we are delighted this has allowed us to regularly present the needs and aims of the sector to the heart of Government.
“From Mr Eustice’s speech and interaction in a Q&A session, it is clear the Government is open to new ideas. He was clear that devising an agriculture outside of the EU should not necessarily mean more of the same, but instead a first principle approach that builds a new policy which meets the needs of stakeholders right across the sector.
“The Prime Minister has already made this clear in saying that leaving the EU is not about replicating other models but designing a model for the United Kingdom. Mr Eustice also made reference to other countries like the US and Canada where Government support is presented in different ways, but continued to allow farmers to manage risk.
“Our own DAERA Minister, Michelle McIlveen MLA, was also in attendance at the event. She set out the vision for agriculture clearly under three top priorities: preserving vital financial support for farming, and fisheries, sectors; ensuring an agriculture policy framework that underpins the growth and competitiveness of our agri-food sector; and safeguarding our ongoing ability to trade effectively and profitably both inwardly and outwardly.
“The DUP will continue to engage at all levels to ensure this sector makes the best of all the opportunities which Brexit presents.”
Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIlveen, who earlier had held a separate meeting with Mr Eustice at Stormont, said: “I would like to thank Mr Eustice for coming to Northern Ireland. I know that he was keen to hear from a broad cross section of representatives from our agri-food industry about their hopes and concerns on the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“This was a valuable opportunity for me to underline my three top priorities, which are: to preserve vital financial support for the farming, and fisheries, sectors; to ensure an agricultural policy framework that underpins the growth and competitiveness of our agri-food sector; and to safeguard our continued ability to trade effectively and profitably both inwardly and outwardly.”