Question Time Agriculture and Rural Development Monday 19 May 2014

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill answered questions on a range of issues, including the common agricultural policy, animal cruelty and the definition of an active farmer.

With regards to Active Farming the Minister stated the she will act in accordance with the legislation that is in place and this means that, in future, direct payments, which are intended as an income support for farmers, should go to those who actively farm the land in question.

The Minister was also asked about Illegal Slaughter of Animals in Northern Ireland, the Minister explained that the:
"responsibility for regulating the slaughter of farm animals lies with the Food Standards Agency (FSA). District council environmental health officers, on behalf of the FSA, investigate allegations of animals slaughtered illegally, from a public health perspective. However, my Department has responsibility for investigating any animal health or welfare breaches associated with that illegal activity. Although suspect cases are uncommon, where illegal slaughter is suspected, enforcement officers from the Department's veterinary service work closely with the police, the FSA and the relevant environmental health office in adopting a multi-agency approach to dismantling such operations and taking appropriate enforcement action."
There was also a 15 minute period of topical questions in which the Minister answered questions on topics such as Cattle residency criteria, Bovine TB and the rural development programme.

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