Sinn Féin Agricultural spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the opportunity to visit three of the biggest agri food businesses in the North but said that the successes are in jeopardy of being reversed due to the DUP court case.
Mr McMullan said,
“The Assembly Business Trust team accompanied by the Chief Executive of the Food and Drink Association Michael Bell visited three of our biggest companies in the Agri-Food sector.
“We began with a visit to Irwin’s bakery, a family run business that now supply all of the major supermarket chains.
“Next we visited another family run business P McCann's and Sons who are one of the major importers and exporters of apples in Ireland who have now invested in new plant and machinery which has allowed them to expand into the drink sector with a new range of ciders and fruit drinks.
“Finally our visit ended with a tour of one of the biggest poultry product producer in Europe, Moypark Chickens. Again this is a business that has and continues to invest in new plant and machinery to keep them leaders in the food product market.
“These three agri food businesses alone employ over 1600 people and are examples of the success of the Agri-food industry.
“The Agricultural Minister Michelle O'Neill has managed to move agri food to the top of the Executive agenda and the Minister has now put in place a strategic plan for the industry that could create up to 15,000 jobs.
“It is becoming abundantly clear that the DUP have made a serious strategic mistake in taking the court case and that the growth of the agri food sector is in jeopardy of being stalled
“The recent court case, brought by the DUP, stopped the Minister transferring 7% funding from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2 means the Minister now has to go to the Executive to make up the short fall in funding in the Rural Development Programme (RDP) so that the agri-food strategy can be delivered on."