MP Simpson highlights budget priorities

David Simpson MP with Diane Dodds MEP and William Irwin, chairman of the Agriculture Committee
David Simpson MP with Diane Dodds MEP and William Irwin, chairman of the Agriculture Committee

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, David Simpson MP has warned strongly against any cut to the Northern Ireland block grant, emphasising the need for key economic and export functions to be protected in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

“We all recognise that during a time of financial hardship we need big decisions to be taken along with strong Government leadership. Given the difficulties facing all sectors of agriculture in Northern Ireland we need Government to ensure budget cuts do not impact upon core functions and service delivery, and I want to ensure this is the case.

“Throughout the UK and particularly here in Northern Ireland we are proud of the huge role farmers and the agri food industry plays.

“In order for the industry to function to its full potential we need to ensure the Northern Ireland block grant is protected to deliver schemes which will benefit farmers. This includes, for example, the national funding element of rural development schemes. I am clear that money should be prioritised into areas which deliver for farmers and prevent additional red tape - this means delivery of the basic payment scheme on time, ensuring RDP schemes are in place to allow farmers to get the much needed cash injections required.

“Ahead of the Autumn Spending review, it is paramount that areas such as the Trade Department within DEFRA have their resources maintained in order to assist with our global exporting potential.

“I have written to both the Chancellor and our own Finance Minister highlighting these particular concerns. Over the next few weeks our lobby to the Chancellor will gather momentum as we seek to negotiate an Autumn Statement that indicates how our Nation is building pace and moving away from economic decline. I look forward to a time when DEFRA can be provided with the necessary financial support, and which if used correctly can assist our farmers and encourage our agri-food industry.”