Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA, has welcomed the announcement of the draft budget which increases DARD's budget by an average of 2.6% per year.
Additionally, under the Investment Strategy, DARD would benefit from gross capital allocations of £182.8million.
The Minister said: "I made a strong case to the Executive that we need to make a firm commitment to rural communities, which continue to face serious challenges."
Ms Gildernew said that the draft budget increases would allow her to carry-through her priorities over the next three years: "There is a finite pot of money available and in these days of budgetary pressures, it is encouraging to receive a draft budget that delivers an increase. It is also heartening that the Programme for Government makes important commitments to supporting rural businesses and rural infrastructure.
"I therefore welcome the draft budget which, if approved, may not allow me to do everything I want but will nevertheless help to make a real difference in delivering on the big issues that cut across all rural communities." ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Executive's draft Budget, Programme for Government and Investment Strategy were published yesterday. Further information on each of these is available at http://www.pfgbudgetni.gov.uk