10 September 2014

Question Time - Agriculture and Rural Development 09 September 2014

The Agriculture Minister was asked by Sydney Anderson about the effect of the Russian ban on imports of EU agricultural produce.



"It is particularly affecting our dairy industry. It has mainly affected cheese," the Minister replied.
She said she had taken part in an EU meeting about the matter, and that finding new markets had to be a priority.
"What we have to do now is to very closely watch the market,".

During Oral Questions to the Minister she was also asked for an update on the funding for the 2014-2020 rural development programme and to outline the process made in implementing Going for Growth. The Minister sated " I am delighted that the Executive have endorsed the growth aspirations of the industry, as set out in 'Going for Growth' and agreed a proposed response as part of the package of significant support on CAP and the rural development programme announced at the end of June 2014. Since then, my officials have been working with colleagues across Departments to refresh and update the response prior to publication to take account of the various actions that have already taken place.

Progress has been made on a number of fronts.  For example, we have developed our new rural development programme, which contains a range of new support schemes to address the aims and objectives of Going for Growth, including a farm business improvement scheme and an agrifood processing investment scheme.  We have deferred the introduction of charges for export health certificates for meat and dairy products.  An appointments process for the TB strategic partnership is under way.  We have launched the all-island Chalara control strategy, increased the number of DARD-funded postgraduate places, launched a further tranche of the research challenge fund and appointed a contact point at AFBI to assist researchers and businesses in making applications to EU research funding programmes.  We have also opened a third tranche of the manure efficiency technology (MET) scheme.  With DETI and Invest NI, we have jointly launched a loan scheme to support the sustainable use of poultry litter.

My Department will continue to work with other Departments and industry representatives to drive forward implementation".

The Minister was asked about the TVR Project, Forest Service HQ Relocation, Rivers Agency and DARD HQ Ballykelly during the 15 minutes of Topical Questions.