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Sinn Féin welcome discussions on DARD red tape

22 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has encouraged full engagement between the department and the agri-food sector in moving forward with the simplification agenda and said that the removal of red tape and the development of a Farmers Charter would put the farming industry on a stronger footing for 2007.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Hopefully this engagement signals a genuine intention from the most senior levels within DARD to fully engage on their obligations to become more customer orientated toward the rural community. There must be a two-way partnership between all of the stakeholders and the department.

"I also believe that the development of a 'Farmers Charter' can move the situation forward considerably, particularly in bringing the required flexibility into the working relationship and also give farmers a clear sense of how to plan for the future.

"In the months ahead there is a definite hope that a locally accountable assembly will be able to assist the rural community by putting in place a local Minister and a scrutiny committee to oversee the departmental responsibilities of DARD.

"Very many of DARD's staff do their best in working and liasing with the farming community but are stymied by poor policy decisions and dogmatic positions adopted by senior staff.

"In the year ahead I hope that the work of the agri-food sector and with a new assembly that we can begin to listen to the staff on the ground, the farming community and to bring about the necessary changes that are required to modernise and develop the agri-food sector. The message of simplification and freedom to farm under the last CAP reforms still has to be fulfilled." ENDS

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