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New NI minister warned that agri-sector ‘under extreme financial pressure’

Northern Ireland’s new Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs minister, Andrew Muir, may only be three days in the job but he has already been warned that the agriculture sector is under “extreme financial pressure”.

According to the president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), David Brown, the return of a minister to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is welcome.

But since the Northern Ireland Executive collapsed in February 2022 there has been an absence of decision making which he said now needs to resume with “urgency”.

Brown added: “Andrew Muir takes on the agriculture brief at a time when the industry is under extreme financial pressure.

“This makes the job a big challenge – but at the same time there is considerable scope for a new minister to deliver.

“Agriculture is the backbone of the Northern Ireland economy, and it is vital that Minister Muir supports local food security to help safeguard Northern Ireland’s agri-industry.”

In his first week in office the new minister has said that his “immediate focus will be on working across government and with other partners to find appropriate responses to the immediate environmental and agricultural challenges we face”.

He also stressed that he sees the agri-sector as being “of paramount importance to our economy, food security and of course, will be critical in helping us to achieve our environmental obligations”.

Minister Muir has also been keen to “reassure” farming communities that he is aware there are many challenges to address “not least the devastating impact of bovine TB (tuberculosis) on our farms and economy”.

The UFU president is now urging the minister to “roll out future direct farm support measures” and take decisions on “wildlife intervention in a TB eradication programme”.

“Considerable uncertainty lies ahead for our industry and the new minister has plenty of challenges on his plate.

“We look forward to meeting with Minister Muir and his executive ministerial colleagues to make decisions ensuring pressing and strategic issues are addressed as quickly as possible, to safeguard Northern Ireland’s family farms and agri-businesses,” Brown added.


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