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Gildernew outlines Autumn Agenda

9 October, 2007


Sinn Féin Minister Gildernew has updated the Assembly Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on her autumn agenda.

During today's meeting, the Minister provided Committee members with an update in challenges currently faced by the sector. Issues included the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease and Bluetongue; the Red Meat Task Force Report, which points to serious choices ahead for many farmers; the catching opportunities for the sea fisheries industry which will be decided at the December Council of Ministers and delivery mechanisms for the new Rural Development Programme.

In relation to animal health the Minister stressed the importance of farmers in being vigilant saying: "Farmers should continue to be vigilant and check their livestock regularly."

Ms Gildernew also outlined a number of challenges facing the rural community:

"The economic problems facing farmers are going to be a huge issue for both DARD and the Executive."

Referring to the red meat industry, the Minister said:

"The recently produced Task Force Report will set the scene for the future of the industry. Direct intervention in the market is not an option for government, however I have written to all the supermarkets to encourage them to work with the industry, recognising the economic pressure on producers. The Report makes several recommendations and my department is ready to work alongside all the other partners to move this forward."

In conclusion, Ms Gildernew said:

"With more commuters choosing to live in rural areas, aligned with fewer farms being economically stable, my department will be strengthening its rural proofing and seeking a mandate from the Executive for a Rural White Paper, so that rural issues could be addressed holistically, on a cross-departmental basis." ENDS

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