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de Brún welcomes Agriculture Minister to Brussels

14 June, 2007

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the visit by Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew, to Brussels. She will meet with the Minister later today to talk about the future for agriculture in the face of international competition and increasing red tape and to discuss EU funding for rural development.

Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:

"Strong, sustainable rural communities need to be supported by strong, sustainable rural economies. Agriculture remains the fundamental part of rural life and a key economic factor even for those not directly employed on farms. Funding for rural development and the delivery of a range of services in rural areas is also important for the wider rural economy.

"The Minister will today conclude negotiations on funding for rural development, which is essential in securing the future of rural communities. The Minister's visit will be all-important in securing the maximum for rural areas in the North in the time ahead. Sinn Féin has long campaigned for a proper rural development budget that does not put at risk already precarious farm incomes.

"Farmers also reacted with interest to the Minister's recent address at the Balmoral Show in which she gave a commitment to cut red tape. The commitment has been widely welcomed and I would hope that her visit to Brussels today could further the agenda of reducing the bureaucracy and red tape that is strangling many farmers.

"I look forward to working closely with the Minister and the industry in order to ensure that Ireland's farmers, farm families and rural communities are empowered to reach their maximum potential." ENDS

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