UFU meet newly appointed Agriculture Minister

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union office bearer team met with the new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Andrew Muir, yesterday (14 February).

During the meeting, they discussed UFU policy priorities and set out members’ views on key issues.

Union president, David Brown, said the UFU was pleased to again have a minister in place and to have the opportunity to set out, what it believes, are the priorities demanding “urgent focus”.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Brown said: “We made a strong case against proposed TB livestock valuation cuts and underlined the crucial difference between compensation and valuations.

UFU policy, technical and communications manager James McCluggage, UFU deputy president John McLenaghan, UFU president David Brown, UFU deputy president William Irvine and UFU CEO Wesley Aston attended the meeting with Agriculture Minister Andrew Muir MLA. (Pic: UFU)UFU policy, technical and communications manager James McCluggage, UFU deputy president John McLenaghan, UFU president David Brown, UFU deputy president William Irvine and UFU CEO Wesley Aston attended the meeting with Agriculture Minister Andrew Muir MLA. (Pic: UFU)
UFU policy, technical and communications manager James McCluggage, UFU deputy president John McLenaghan, UFU president David Brown, UFU deputy president William Irvine and UFU CEO Wesley Aston attended the meeting with Agriculture Minister Andrew Muir MLA. (Pic: UFU)

“We stressed that these cuts would alienate farmers and made clear our stance that decisions are needed now to break the cycle of infection and reinfection, so that we can have healthy livestock and healthy wildlife.”

The UFU raised future agriculture policy and the need to include sheep as a key enterprise across Northern Ireland.

It also called for certainty around an increased long-term budget for agriculture.

“We were encouraged that the Minister stressed the commitment that the NI Executive is determined that Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances will be considered in drawing up a future support budget,” Mr Brown continued.

The UFU discussed other key issues including Lough Neagh, ammonia, flash flooding, generational renewal, access to labour, the importance of food security, Windsor Framework and support for small scale renewables.

“There are issues the UFU believe the minister could deliver on very quickly, including the faster implementation of BVD legislation.

“It was particularly encouraging to hear assurances from the minister that agriculture is very much a key part of the economy. We are also glad Mr Muir wants a good relationship with the UFU and recognised that agriculture and the environment were complimentary rather than competing objectives, accepting that farmers are key custodians of the countryside.

“While there are many challenges facing the farming industry there are also significant opportunities which can be delivered by collaborative work between government and industry.

“Profitable, environmentally sustainable farming must be our joint key objective and important work needs to be done to allow the farming industry to maximise production efficiencies.

“The minister has agreed to meet the UFU regularly and we hope this is evidence of things yet to come for the betterment of the agricultural industry,” the UFU president concluded.