‘New structures must deliver for agri-food’

Jo-Anne Dobson
Jo-Anne Dobson

Ulster Unionist Party Upper Bann Candidate, Jo-Anne has said that the restructuring of Stormont’s Departments is an opportunity to deliver better government and emphasised that the new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs must deliver for agri-food and rural communities.

Commenting Mrs Dobson said: “The new Stormont Departments present a number of challenges as the structures take time to bed in, the reorganisation is however also an opportunity to introduce new ways of working.

“In the past agriculture and environmental policy have often pulled in different directions, often failing to recognise the importance of agri-food to the economy and also the vital role that farmers play in terms of managing the countryside and delivering environmental benefits for society as a whole. Crucially for farming and rural communities the new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) will bring together a number of key policy areas under one roof.

“For environmental initiatives to work they must be workable at farm level, the creation of DAERA is therefore an important opportunity to improve cooperation between farmers and the new department.

“DAERA must have much more of a farmer first focus than DARD or the DOE. This is an opportunity to deliver better, more joined-up government with less red tape and bureaucracy for the agri-food industry.”

The Ulster Unionist candidate continued: “The new Department must build upon the recent efforts to improve cooperation between the NIEA and agri-food and ensure the industry receives the support needed to innovate, grow and access export markets.”