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Gildernew serves up positive message for agri-food industry at Balmoral breakfast

13 May, 2010 - by Westminster

Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has said the Agri-Food industry remains the backbone of our economy and continues to grow against very difficult odds.

The Minister was speaking at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) traditional breakfast at the Balmoral Show where President of Ireland Mary McAleese was special guest.

In her annual address to more than 250 industry stakeholders, the Minister said: “During this difficult economic climate the Agri-Food industry has continued to be the backbone of our economy and to make a vital contribution by not only showing staying power but also by continuing to grow against very difficult odds.”

In her speech, the Minister reviewed progress on key issues and outlined her forward work programme covering renewable energy, greenhouse gases, the Farm Modernisation Scheme, Manure Efficiency Technology Scheme (METS) and the Nitrates Action Programme.

The Minister said: “This year our industry has opportunities to improve animal health and produce renewable energy; we must address key environmental concerns but we must also importantly continue to produce the good food that the consumer demands.

“By strengthening our all-Ireland, east-west and European relationships we can ensure strong policies are developed locally which meet the particular circumstances of our farming and rural communities.”

Turning to the economy, the Minister said: “We are all too aware of the difficult economic times in which we are living and working. The Executive is facing major and growing challenges in attempting to deliver its services. I intend to do all in my power along with my Executive colleagues, to try to prevent or minimize any proposed cuts.

“However, I believe by working in partnership we can tackle all of these problems in a way that best meets the interest of our farming and rural communities. Let us address these challenges fearlessly and positively and move forward together in partnership.”

The Minister also applauded the success of the 142nd Balmoral Show - her fourth as Agriculture Minister – adding: “This prestigious event grows steadily in significance each year and is a truly fitting showcase for all that is best in our local industry. This show is also broadening its appeal to non rural dwellers and more and more people are gaining an insight into the high standards of livestock and food production maintained here on their doorstep.”

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