Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson met with Simon Coveney TD, the Republic of Ireland’s Agriculture Minister, in Strasbourg this week.
Mr Nicholson said the meeting was a useful opportunity to discuss several issues currently relating to agriculture plus to look ahead at proposed EU legislation, saying: “There are a range of current and on-going EU issues of interest to farmers and rural communities in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These include; the current situation in the dairy sector and need for more meaningful support, the challenges for agriculture posed by the new CAP and the on-going trade negotiations between the EU and US and implications for agriculture.
“The impact of country of origin labelling on the cross-border sheep trade and lamb prices was another issue I discussed with the Minister. The weak euro is having a huge impact on Northern Ireland producers and exporters in all sectors and it is important that the labelling issue does not cause additional problems for sheep farmers especially as the peak season for lamb sales approaches. I still believe that a voluntary labelling solution which provides clarity for consumers and doesn’t distort the market is possible.”
Mr Nicholson concluded: “As a former MEP Minister Coveney has an understanding of how decisions made in the EU impact upon the agri-food sector and the importance of looking ahead at what is coming down the track at the European level.
“There are for example proposals from the European Commission for future climate change legislation which relates to farming and forestry, an example of an issue which needs monitored closely by the industry.”