Dodds – “Farm support protected but NI needs Executive to shape policy”

05 January 2018

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has welcomed assurances by the DEFRA Secretary that UK farm support will be guaranteed until 2022 but said a Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister will be needed to shape our future agri-support policies.

Diane Dodds MEP

Member of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Substitute member of the EU Fisheries Committee

Diane Dodds

Responding to Mr Gove’s speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, she said:

"It is welcome to hear Mr Gove echoing the position reached through the Confidence and Supply Agreement that farming support would be protected until 2022.  We specifically sought this assurance to bring certainty to the industry.

I want to see us exporting more around the world, competing in a value-added market rather than solely on price, but not allowing British standards to be diminished. Therefore I welcome this approach by Mr Gove and in particular his recognition of the opportunity to increase exports thus growing the UK and EU markets. Minister Gove is right to be critical of the current EU Common Agriculture, its flawed nature including the per hectare payment, red tape and the overall complexity of the system.

Of course the devil is in the detail. There is a recognition that DEFRA needs to do more and the pace of change needs to be accelerated. I will continue to press these matters.

While the DEFRA Secretary made direct reference to practical changes for England, Northern Ireland civil servants will require direction as to how they would implement agriculture policy going forward.

We want Northern Ireland to have the flexibility under devolution to shape this policy area but we need a functioning Executive. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing intransigence of Sinn Fein, local farmers are left without a local voice and the ability to take decisions.

In this unacceptable vacuum, the DUP will continue to engage with the Government to demonstrate the needs of our farmers. We will utilise and build on the role already secured for Northern Ireland in discussions on a future farming framework within our confidence and supply agreement."

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