A co-ordinated and joined up strategy on land management will help to ensure that agriculture and the environment can flourish in tandem.
That was the key message from Agriculture and Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen yesterday as she received a report on ‘Sustainable Agricultural Land Management Strategy’.
The report was compiled by an expert working group, consisting of farmers, environmentalists, officials and food processors, chaired by Dr John Gilliland.
This is the first report of its kind for Northern Ireland, providing a number of recommendations on how best to support productive agriculture whilst improving environmental performance.
Speaking at the event at AFBI, Hillsborough, Miss McIlveen said: “I wish to thank the members of the expert working group for their work in producing this strategy document under the chairmanship of Dr John Gilliland.
“Today marks another step forward in the implementation of the Agri Food Strategy Board’s ‘Going for Growth’ report. The Sustainable Agricultural Land Management Strategy is a first for Northern Ireland and is linked to recommendation 22 of ‘Going for Growth’, which called for a strategic regional land management policy.
“This is an excellent example of how a genuine partnership between government, the food chain and the farming and environmental sectors can work together for the common good.
“As Minister for both Agriculture and the Environment, building such vibrant partnerships is an important priority for me. I believe that a coordinated and joined-up strategy will help to ensure that agriculture and the environment, can flourish in tandem,” she added.
Dr Gilliland said: “This report seeks to empower farmers and landowners with very farm specific, detailed information on their productivity, their soil fertility, their water and habitat quality. Only then can they make the right decisions for their own land, which will build an inherent resilience in their farm businesses. We believe the Northern Ireland Land Based Sector can deliver true resilient Sustainability – economic, environmental and social; and also become a world exemplar, able to maximise its value from the marketplace.”
The Minister concluded: “My officials and I will consider this report carefully in the coming weeks as we examine the potential implementation of these recommendations to deliver my Department’s vision of a thriving and sustainable economy, environment and rural community. This report has the potential to inspire positive change. I look forward to working with farmers, the food chain and the environmental sector as we all endeavour to deliver on that potential.”