Minister Muir set out his priorities for the Agri-Food sector

DAERA Minister Andrew Muir has outlined his vision for an economically and environmentally sustainable agri-food sector in Northern Ireland.

The Minister was speaking to MLAs during an Oral statement in the Chamber where he gave more details about the Farm Support Development Programme, which his Department is co-designing with stakeholder organisations to target farm support to meet the bespoke needs of Northern Ireland.

Minister Muir said: “The overall objective is to transition to a more sustainable farming sector by seeking to implement policies and strategies that benefit our climate and environment, while supporting our economically and socially significant agri-food sector.

“My vision for the time ahead is to ensure both economic and environmental sustainability.  An environmentally sustainable agri-food industry will also provide a key part of the jigsaw to improve water quality across Northern Ireland."

The Minister highlighted the key outcomes of the new Farm Support and Development Programme stating: “My vision is to secure environmental sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction, increased productivity, improved long-term resilience and an effective functioning supply chain ensuring food security and high standards of disease control, public and animal health."

Minister Muir concluded: “Northern Ireland has a unique farm family structure. Farm families work hard to produce quality food while working hand-in-hand with nature. The actions of many generations of farmers and growers have also shaped the appearance of the landscape we all enjoy today, our natural environment and the biodiversity that it supports. 

“It is, therefore, fully deserving of the attention we must give it to ensure long-term sustainability, resilience and prosperity.

“It is clear however that there are challenges ahead for us all. We must act now. Maintaining the status quo for any farm business is no longer a viable business option. No-one wants to be left behind. There is something within the Farm Support and Development Programme for every farm business to help ensure that together we transition to a more sustainable farming sector.”