Sinn Féin MLA Declan Mc Aleer has been appointed the Chair of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs committee.
Speaking on the appointment, Declan Mc Aleer said:“I am honoured to have been elected as the chair of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs committee.
“I have a proven track record in advancing rural development during my time in the Assembly, having previously participated on the committees for both Agriculture and Infrastructure.
“There are undoubtedly many challenges facing the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, but there are also great opportunities.
“In the immediate future Brexit is due to come into effect. This poses serious challenges for rural farmers, businesses and communities; I am committed to using my new role as chair of the committee to protect the interests of our farm families and rural communities,” he said.
“Other priorities that I will work to is the implementation of a new agriculture and rural strategy, the inclusion of rural issues in the Programme for Government, the restoration of the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme and the release of the de minimus funding for Sperrins farmers devastated by the 2017 floods.
“I will also work to ensure that TRPSI and other anti-poverty measures in the department are protected and exert influence to ensure that Project Stratum targets the many broadband ‘not-spots’ in rural areas.
“We are also facing a climate breakdown and a biodiversity crisis and I will also work to ensure that the department acts in a way that recognises the scale of the crises we all face. I will work to ensure that farmers are treated as part of the solution and not part of the problem.
“Sinn Féin will continue to work for a regionally balanced Executive which adequately invests in our rural communities and protects their interests in Government,” Mr McAleer concluded.