Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs of immense social and economic importance – Foster and McGuinness

Date published: 12 May 2016

First Minister, Arlene Foster and the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness today attended the RUAS, Balmoral Show.

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Speaking at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs breakfast, First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Balmoral Show is one of the highlights of the Northern Ireland calendar and celebrates the best of our local agri-food sector.  Agri-food processing continues to be one of the largest manufacturing sectors in Northern Ireland, responsible for sales of nearly £5billion per year, and providing direct employment to nearly 24,000 people. 

“It is vital government continues to support our producers and processors to help them build upon their current position and maximise their future potential. 

“In 2016 we are celebrating our Year of Food and Drink, during which we are telling the story of our local produce and the people behind it on a global stage.  International visitors, tourists and food aficionados alike, are coming to Northern Ireland, enjoying our hospitality and world class produce and taking home great memories, sharing our stories and encouraging their friends and families to come and visit us. 

“I appreciate the current very difficult economic conditions within which many of our producers, farmers, growers, and fishermen are operating.  It is now more important than ever that government and industry work together to identify and implement solutions to those challenges.  Working together we can build a solid agri-food industry, and place our producers and processors on a stronger footing, building resilience and sustainability for the future.”

The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: “The RUAS Balmoral Show is a fantastic opportunity for everybody across the island of Ireland and further afield to see the tremendous work of our agriculture, environment and rural affairs industry.

“You don’t have to be a farmer to appreciate the significance of agriculture, the environment and rural affairs. The previous Executive recognised the importance of the sector, making it a priority in the last Programme for Government and Economic Strategy.  We appointed the industry-led Agri-Food Strategy Board, bringing together experts from across the supply chain to develop a longer term strategic plan for the sector, and agreeing to deliver major support measures for the sector through the Rural Development Programme, worth up to £623million. 

“The new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) will integrate the sustainable development of the agri-food sector with the rich natural environment, as well as championing the interests of people living and working in rural areas. Farming and the natural environment are not competing interests and the new Department provides opportunities for a more cohesive and co-ordinated approach to tackle the major issues affecting people. 

“In the dynamic global market it is crucial Government leaves no stone unturned to build a strong, resilient and sustainable industry, building on the superb quality of our produce.  The new Executive will remain fully committed to preserving and protecting the features of rural life which is an important part of who we are.”

Notes to editors: 

Media enquiries to the Executive Office press office on 028 9037 8201. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press office via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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