South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has urged the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary of State to protect and safeguard her budget and to ensure that they retain the ability to execute the export division.
Ms Ritchie said: “Over the last number of weeks, I have had an opportunity to meet the farming unions, local farmers and other stakeholders who have underlined the importance of protecting our trade and export base. A significant amount of Northern Ireland’s agricultural produce is exported. Over the last year, we have witnessed exports to Russia and Ukraine facing problems, and with the economic downturn in China, they have indicated that they are self-sufficient in milk. In this respect, it is good to have alternative UK Certification Export Markets and in this respect we await the outcome of the protracted negotiations with China in relation to the eligibility for pork and lamb products.
“The competent trade authority for Exports of Farm products in the UK and for Northern Ireland is the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Therefore, the Export Division in DEFRA in order to execute it’s functions in a proper and adequate manner requires to be properly resourced and financed.”