Newly-appointed Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIlveen met with farmers and producers on a visit to Ballymena Show on Saturday.
She said she was delighted to have the opportunity so soon after her appointment to get out and about and meet members of the farming and rural communities.
Miss McIlveen added: “This visit to Ballymena Show has given me the chance to see for myself the quality of our agri-food sector.
“Speaking with the farmers, exhibitors and prize-winners, I got a real experience of the knowledge and skills, pride and dedication plus the determination and resolve within the industry in the current challenging financial climate.”
The Minister added: “It is very clear to me that the farming sector and wider agri-food industry make a very valuable contribution to Northern Ireland’s economy.
“I had the opportunity to listen to farmers about their key concerns, both across production and in their role as environmental custodians and this has certainly given me a grasp of the breadth of the agriculture, environment and rural affairs portfolio which I have taken on.”
The Minister concluded: “I congratulate the show’s organisers on an outstanding event, a great social occasion and stage on which to showcase the quality of our farming and the vibrancy within our rural communities.”
Meanwhile, North Antrim MLA Robin Swann, has praised the “superb and outstanding” Ballymena Show.
He urged the community to “make it a double delight for the region” by attending the forthcoming North Antrim Agricultural Show in neighbouring Ballymoney.
Mr Swann also praised the organisers of the recent Ballymena Show on staging “a very impressive and highly enjoyable event”.
Mr Swann had earlier made an appeal to the North Antrim community to rally behind the constituency’s farming sector and support both Ballymena Show and the forthcoming agricultural show in Ballymoney.
As well as the North Antrim shows, Assemblyman Swann also urged the Northern Ireland community to support their local agricultural shows throughout the Province.
In his statement, Mr Swann said: “I congratulate the organisers of the Ballymena Show on the quality of their arrangements. I spent a most enjoyable time touring the stands and the events. One of the most impressive elements was the number of exhibitors and small businesses participating in the show.”
For full report and results from Ballymena Show see the Farming Life website www.farminglife.com or Saturday’s Farming Life.