Stormont to be fully involved in Brexit talks

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Farm Minister Michelle McIlveen has confirmed that the Stormont Executive will play a full role in the Brexit negotiations that will now take place between the United Kingdom and the EU in the wake of last Thursday’s referendum vote.

“From a farming and food perspective, tariff-free access to the European market is a priority,” she said.

“I also want to see the evolution of a farm support system that is less bureaucratic.”

McIlveen was speaking at the launch of the LMC’s new beef and lamb advertising campaigns, which was held in Belfast earlier this week. The event also marked the unveiling of the Commission’s plans for NI Year of Food & Drink meat month, which will take place in August,

LMC Chief Executive Ian Stevenson said that his organisation’s commitment to supporting the red meat industry in the local market is paying off: “Our strategy has delivered not only greater awareness of the Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured logo, but also a significant increase in the numbers of people purchasing beef and, in particular, lamb.

“An independent report produced in May 2016 has shown that 65% of housekeepers are now purchasing lamb at some stage, up 48% from the previous year and that beef purchasing has increased from 88% to 95%,” Ian said. “This is clear evidence of the success of our marketing campaigns and, importantly, our educational activities.”

Minister McIlveen said: “During the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016, the Farm Quality Assurance Scheme will have been in operation for 25 years. I would like to congratulate the LMC for this achievement. It demonstrates a commitment to supporting and promoting the beef and sheep meat industry in Northern Ireland. My Department will continue to work closely with the LMC to achieve the shared goal of a sustainable and profitable future for the industry at all levels in the supply chain.”

Ian Stevenson went on to talk about current plans: “We will build on this success with the introduction of a brand new campaign that will be seen right across Northern Ireland on TV, radio, print and online and is aimed at influencing shopping behaviour to ensure that beef and lamb continues to fly off the shelves.”

The LMC chief executive also spoke of the organisation’s activities for NI Year of Food & Drink which include consumer demonstrations in major supermarkets throughout August’s Love NI meat month, sponsorship of the inaugural Grow Make Eat Drink Awards and a special steak cooking competition that will see finalists compete at St George’s market in August.

School cookery demonstrations which form an important element of the LMC’s education programme will begin again in September with some 330 secondary schools participating.