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Gildernew meets new Southern Counterpart in Luxembourg

24 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Farming Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has met with Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) Minister Brendan Smith TD in Luxembourg at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

The visit provided a useful opportunity to exchange views on a range of specific agriculture issues including: our concerns on aspects of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations, the All-island Animal Health and Welfare strategy, Bluetongue, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Healthcheck and rising fuel prices for fishermen.

Speaking after the meeting with Minister Smith, Minister Gildernew said:

"I share the concerns of the Southern government and farmers of the detrimental impact that a forthcoming WTO agreement might have on the agricultural industry. I stressed in particular the point that any agreement must be a balanced one. The sector must not be sacrificed, either for the sake of a deal or for minimal gains elsewhere in the negotiations on industrial goods and services."

The Ministers also discussed the CAP Health Check in detail; especially issues such as simplification of the Single Farm Payment, abolition of set-aside, the ending of milk quotas in 2015, modulation, changes to the model of decoupling and further decoupling in other EU Member States.

Outlining these discussions the Minister said:

"We will continue to have further discussions on the CAP Health Check in the months ahead and officials from both Departments will remain in close contact on this matter."

On animal health matters, she added:

"I remain committed to preventing the introduction of disease to the island of Ireland as far as possible. My staff will continue to work closely with their counterparts in DAFF to ensure that all necessary measures are taken and that there is a consistent approach to disease control and eradication."

On fishing matters the Minister added:

"We discussed how we could influence the Commission to tackle the pressing issue of rising fuel prices, quota calculations and our approach to making our fishing industries more sustainable." ENDS

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