Pork licences must be forthcoming - Ritchie

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South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has urged the Minister for Agriculture to come back from China with the pork plant approvals licences in her pocket.

Margaret Ritchie said: “Following protracted discussions around the need for inspections to be undertaken by the Chinese authorities into pork plants in Northern Ireland, it is now vitally important that the Minister for Agriculture uses her time in China effectively and efficiently this week to ensure that such inspections into pork plants in Northern Ireland which took place between 23rd and 30th April result in approval licences at a very early date.

“Furthermore, the Minister for Agriculture, following her discussions in China this week should be coming home with such licences in her pocket.

“Undoubtedly, such approvals for exports to China by her pork plans will lead to future growth and development in our agri-food sector and wealth creation in our local economy. That is what is required is give a further stimulus to our economy; the farming industry and pork processors.

“The local Minister for Agriculture must ensure that it does not take up to three months to receive the final report as was suggested to me by the British Minister in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in a written Parliamentary answer to me received at the weekend.

“Once again, concerted efforts are required by both Ministers to ensure that securing approval of these pork plants remains a top priority and that continued close liaison takes place with the Chinese authorities to produce the required results. The Assembly DARD Committee should also be pursuing this matter with vigour.”

She added: “I will continue to pursue both the local Minister for Agriculture and the British Minister in DEFRA to ensure that such approvals/licences are forthcoming within the next few weeks. Our local economy needs such a stimulus.”