Ministers meet Fischer Boel
Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has met with EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, along with the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
The meeting, which was held in Brussels, was arranged as part of a series of engagements for the First and deputy First Ministers linked to the EU Special Task Force established by EU Commission President Barroso.
Speaking after the event, Minister Gildernew said:
"Today's meeting has provided me with a fresh opportunity to meet again with the Commissioner and to highlight to her personally a number of key issues for the industry back home. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the First and deputy First Ministers for taking the time today to meet the Commissioner with myself and for their support throughout their visit.
"Top of the agenda was the initial proposals from the EU Commission on the CAP Health Check. During the discussions, I took the opportunity to stress the importance of securing an equitable outcome on the proposals to increase the rate of compulsory modulation, which remains a crucial issue for both our local industry and for the continued financing of our Rural Development Programme."
The Minister also outlined problems facing the local red meat sector at the meeting with the Commissioner, saying:
"I also took the opportunity to discuss with Commissioner Fischer Boel the Red Meat Task Force Report findings. The difficulties highlighted for the red meat sector make it all the more important that we have a level playing field when it comes to competition.
"We can help achieve this by ensuring full decoupling of support across the EU and by ensuring that imports meet the same high standards as domestic production, as well as providing stability in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) up to 2013.
"This has been a very valuable and positive meeting and I believe that is it extremely important that the Commission is made aware at the highest level of the needs and aspirations of our local agri-food sector and I intend to take every opportunity in the future to put our message across. We have agreed to meet again in the near future to take these issues further." ENDS