The financial pressure facing farmers and Brexit negotiations topped the agenda as the Ulster Farmers’ Union has had its first formal meeting with the new DAERA minister, Michelle McIlveen.
The UFU delegation was made up of president Barclay Bell, deputy president, Victor Chestnutt and the UFU chief executive Wesley Aston.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Bell said there was no escape from the reality that the number one issue for the 12,000 farming families the UFU represents is financial pressure they have been under for more than a year, across all commodities.
“We used this meeting to cover actions that could help address this income crisis,” said the UFU president.
“These included full implementation of the rural development programme, led by the farm business investment and agri-environment schemes, advance CAP payments and payment of agreed support to farmers affected by last winter’s flooding.”
Also discussed was the distribution of the latest EU agricultural aid package, Brexit, BSE Negligible Risk Status, Bovine TB, the future of ANC support, the development of an environmental prosperity agreement and the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board which the UFU has long argued is irrelevant in an era of minimum and national wage legislation.
The UFU also underlined its key objectives for the Assembly, as highlighted in its 2016 Manifesto for the election.
These include securing greater fairness along the food supply chain, driving the Going for Growth strategy, easing the path of young people into the agriculture, opening new markets and ensuring the direct CAP payments farmers rely on reach them as quickly as possible.