Agriculture priorities discussed at meeting

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Latvia holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first half of 2015, influencing and organising the EU’s agenda for the six month period before the role is taken over by Luxembourg.

This week Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson met with Jānis Dūklavs, Latvian Minister of Agriculture, to discuss the Latvian Presidency’s agriculture-related priorities.

Issues covered included; the Russian embargo, simplification of the CAP, the situation facing the dairy sector, organic farming, cloning and the EU-US trade negotiations (TTIP).

Commenting afterwards Mr Nicholson said: “This week’s meeting with Latvia’s Agriculture Minister, Jānis Dūklavs, covered the various agri priorities which will be on the EU’s agenda during the first half of this year.

“During our meeting we discussed a range of issues including the Kremlin’s trade ban which continues to have a major impact on the EU’s agricultural industry.

“The implications for the Latvian economy are particularly significant given the amount of produce which was traditionally exported to Russia. While moves appear to be afoot to relax the trade embargo, with Russia lifting the ban on pigs and pork from France, this issue needs to resolved – this is a foreign policy issue and the EU’s farmers, including local producers, are suffering.

“As milk quotas will end during the Latvian Presidency we also discussed the situation in the dairy sector, the organic farming regulation which the Latvian’s have identified as a key priority and the need to reduce the burden of red tape on farmers by simplifying the CAP.

“This was a good opportunity to discuss many of the issues on the EU’s agenda over the next six months which will have a direct impact on farmers and farm businesses and to outline the concerns of the Northern Ireland industry.”