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Minister announces DARD direct EQIA Public Consultation

2 July, 2008


Sinn Féin Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has announced the start of the public consultation period on the new Department of Aagriculture and Rural Development (DARD) Direct initiative.

DARD Direct is a new one-stop-shop approach designed to improve the delivery of DARD services to farmers and farm families, by providing more choice of how, when and where customers can access the Department's services. The focus is on the customer and developing new ways of working that will improve the delivery of DARD services. It also aims to ensure that the majority of queries are answered at the first point of contact.

The new approach focuses on improving access to farm business services. These include Veterinary, Grants and Subsidies, Countryside Management, CAFRE Development Advisers, Rural Enterprise and Quality Assurance Services.

Following the evaluation of a pilot of DARD Direct in Inishkeen House, Enniskillen it is now proposed to roll out the delivery model to a series of strategically located offices around the North of Ireland. The minister said:

"The pilot of DARD Direct at Enniskillen has been very successful for farmers and I want to consider how I can make this approach available across the North.

"We sought input from key stakeholders, such as the Ulster Farmers' Union, NI Agricultural Producers' Association, Rural Development Council, Rural Community Network, Section 75 groups and DARD staff to help us develop this consultation document. We plan to actively engage with a range of stakeholders over the summer to ensure we take all views on board.

In announcing the consultation, the minister said:

"This is a new and exciting initiative aimed at improving accessibility to our services and reducing the amount of time farmers need to spend completing transactions with us. I am asking individuals and organisations to look at the proposals for DARD Direct and tell us what they think of them, how they think they might be affected and, if necessary, how DARD could tailor the DARD Direct approach to meet their needs." ENDS

Note to Editors

The consultation document and other relevant documents can be viewed at www.dardni.gov.uk/consultations. Copies in other formats, eg large print, Braille, CD, audio-cassette and other languages can be obtained from:-

Paula Campbell
Room 555
Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road
BELFAST
BT4 3SU

Telephone 028 9052 0992
e-mail: [email protected]

The closing date for responses to the consultation is Friday 5th September 2008.

It is intended to make copies of the responses received publicly available on the DARD website at the end of the consultation period.

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