DARD strategic plan must be built on genuine partnership
Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has welcomed the publication of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's draft 5 year Strategic Plan but added that it must be developed in genuine partnership with all of the key agricultural and rural stakeholders.
Ms Gildernew said:
"Sinn Féin welcomes the publication of DARD's draft strategic plan. However, unfortunately the Assembly is suspended and unable to make recommendations through the various committees on this strategic plan.
"I particularly welcome the Minister's comments in relation to DARD‚s customers because many farmers have felt for years that DARD have not regarded them in such a manner.
"Following the review of the CAP, the proposals for a new European Rural Fund that will feed into how rural policy is delivered in the North and the urgent need to dramatically improve the return from the market place for farmers, the publication of this strategic plan is very timely.
"Rural communities must play their full part in contributing to this strategic plan and in setting out how they want to see the future of rural communities addressed. It is vital that there is a genuine partnership in the development of this with all of the key agricultural and rural stakeholders.
"There is a growing momentum that has been created over the past few years in developing a proper, focused North/South agenda for co-operation and the building of proper all-Ireland bodies. There is now an excellent opportunity to advance the all-Ireland integration of Agriculture and Rural policies for the benefit of a greater number of people living in rural areas throughout the island of Ireland.
"In developing a new strategic plan for the next 5 years it is important that DARD come clean on the targets in their last strategic plan and how those were met. This would give everyone in the Agri / Rural community an indication of where any problems might lie in the future." ENDS