Gildernew Meets Farmers for Action
Sinn Féin Farm Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA met yesterday with a delegation from the Farmers for Action Group led by its local co-ordinator, William Taylor.
Welcoming the opportunity to meet the Farmers for Action Group the Minister said:
"I took this opportunity to outline the current position on a number of issues including Brazilian imports, live exports, the new rural development programme, red tape, PPS 14 and the labelling of meat."
Responding directly to the perception that cheap Brazilian imports were threatening the local industry, the Minister said:
"I will be working closely with my Ministerial colleagues in Britain and the South to ensure that the European Commission applies pressure on the Brazilian Government to address the concerns that have been raised. We must await the outcome of the forthcoming Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) Mission to Brazil in November to consider whether to press for imports to be banned."
The Minister also discussed the issue of labelling of locally produced meat, commenting:
"I welcome the new industry-led initiative under the "Food Promotion NI" banner to promote locally produced food. This emerged from the work of the Food Strategy Implementation Partnership in association with my Department. I recently met with representatives of the hospitality sector to discuss beef labelling and I welcome their commitment to supporting a voluntary pilot scheme early in the new year which will detail the origin of beef sold in a number of local restaurants."
The delegation had also raised the issue of red tape and the content of some of the correspondence between the Department and many farmers. The Minister said the reduction of unnecessary bureaucracy was a key priority of hers and she was determined to improve the way in which DARD meets its regulatory policy objectives and EU obligations, so that compliance by the agri-food sector is facilitated and the cost of compliance is reduced.
The Minister stated:
"My Department is currently in the process of reviewing these standard letters issued in relation to TB testing, to improve their clarity, layout and simplicity. We are looking at how to communicate in ways of improving communication through new technology."
The Minister also highlighted Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS) online and encouraged farmers to avail of this facility.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The FFAG delegation comprised William Taylor, NI Co-ordinator FFA, Robert Wilson, Randalstown (FFA Steering Committee), Samuel Morrison, Mosside (FFA Steering Committee), Sean McAuley, Rasharkin (FFA Steering Committee), Edwin Bruce, Enniskillen (FFA Steering Committee), Eric Martin, Dromore (FFA Steering Committee) and Robert Laird, Strabane (FFA Steering Committee).