Poots lays out farm support future

Farm Minister Edwin Poots has set out his vision for the future of farm support in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the Irish National Ploughing Championships in Co Laois, he confirmed that the post Brexit farm support measures will focus on a number of key themes - recognising the role of active farmers in adopting sustainable production practices, creating the conditions that will provide encouragement for young people coming into the industry and driving up efficiency levels across the industry.

Where beef is concerned, he referred to a revolution taking place within the sector, similar to that which has already been effected within the pig and poultry sectors.

He said:“The use of improved genetics and the introduction of management systems that drive performance and reduce environmental impacts, particularly greenhouse gas emissions, are priorities for the beef industry.

Significantly, Edwin Poots did not rule out the ring fencing of cow numbers within the suckler sector. But all future support measures will be underpinned by a measurable improvement in farm economic and environmental performance.

Recent weeks have provided the minister and his policy team with an opportunity to review the views expressed by respondents to the public consultation on future farm policy reform, which has now ended.

He is also conscious that his current tenure as farm minister will terminate on October 28.

But irrespective of what happens politically over the next few weeks Edwin Poots wants to have a road map put in place, where future farm policy for Northern Ireland is concerned.

The industry awaits further details on what the funding arrangements for the post-Brexit support measures will be.

The minister spent two days at the National Ploughing Championships in Co Laois, which also combined the World Ploughing Championships.

The venue for the latter event had been switched from Ukraine to Ireland at very short notice.

Edwin Poots commented at the start of the event: “This is the first time I have attended the championships and one could not fail to be impressed by the vast scale of this event. It is fundamentally a ploughing competition, which is truly and rightly recognised on the international map as a major competition, attracting world class ploughmen. I send all the competitors, especially those from Northern Ireland, best wishes.

“The event is of course very beneficial for Northern Ireland companies and visitors.

“From walking around and meeting people, particularly Northern Ireland exhibitors and competitors, it is clear to see and hear the benefits of trading and showcasing the best of Northern Ireland’s businesses, agri products and our excellent food produce, to a wide and varied audience.

“The event provides unique opportunities to promote Northern Ireland’s agri-food and rural sectors to a large audience from across Ireland and further afield.”

When asked about the future outworking of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Minister Poots did not seem to rule out the possibility of real progress being made on the issue over the coming weeks.