Gildernew supports Committee’s Red Meat seminar
Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has praised the Agriculture Committee's decision to host a seminar for the red meat sector.
The Minister said:
"The Committee's initiative is a good example of devolution in action and I have written to them offering to participate in their industry-based seminar. I have met with the Committee on several occasions to discuss our approach and would welcome their views also on how we move forward together to support farmers in the decisions they are now faced with.
"The Red Meat Task Force Report set out new requirements for each of the main players involved and I would be open to the opportunity to address this seminar to explain what my Department is doing in support of the report's recommendations."
Outlining the ongoing work of her Department in support of suckler beef and hill sheep farmers, the Minister said:
"My Department has been considering the potential for support from within the Rural Development Programme. For example, by contributing to the assessment of alternative production systems and working with stakeholders on options for addressing wider environmental considerations. Be assured that along with other taskforce members, we are exploring a number of options that will strengthen DARD's existing and future support to beef and sheep farmers. Some of these plans are at an advanced stage, while others are being explored in light of the Report."
In a letter to the Committee the Minister outlined various support mechanisms being developed within DARD under five key areas which beef and sheep farmers may avail. These cover a wide range of work streams, including Benchmarking, Farm Modernisation, Diversification and Research and Development. The five areas are: Increasing Competitiveness and Profitability, New Opportunities, Alternatives, Animal Health and Traceability and Environmental Sustainability.
The Minister commented:
"I am focused on providing meaningful support to help the industry become more sustainable and help those farmers, who wish to remain in the industry, get a fair return. Since the report was published, my Department has worked with key stakeholders, and will continue to do so, in efforts to find new solutions. I appreciate the work undertaken by the Committee in supporting the local red meat sector however, it is important that we work together to ensure that the work of the Committee complements the good work that is already underway at Task Force level."
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The Committee's seminar is planned for 13 March 2008.
2. Further information outlining DARD's actions in support of the industry can be accessed at: http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/publications/pubs-dard-fisheries-farming-and-food/dard_actions_in_support_of_beef_and_sheep_farmers.htm