Committee Calls on the EU and Westminster to Provide Greater Financial Support to Agri-Food Sector

30 Apr 2020 03:33 PM

The Assembly’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee (AERA) yesterday called on the EU and Westminster to provide a support package to help alleviate the financial strain faced by the local agri-foods sector.

In a letter issued to the NI Executive, local MPs and to the EU Commission, the Committee has stated its support for a call from DAERA Minister Edwin Poots, MLA, to George Eustice MP, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, seeking assurances that the local agri-foods industry will not be overlooked during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Committee Chairperson, Declan McAleer MLA yesterday said: 

“The Committee fully supports this request by Minister Poots, and is adding its voice to ensure that both Westminster and the EU Commission, include our local agri-foods sector when determining a financial support package. 

“Our agri-food industry is facing a crisis like no other and is dealing with a multitude of issues including falling prices, testing trading conditions and critical cash-flow problems, which could impinge directly upon the future welfare of farming communities, and indeed the processing, distribution and haulage industries”

Mr McAleer continued: 

“The sustainability of a fully functioning food supply chain is essential to continue to meet consumer demand. However, this has obviously been offset by the collapse in demand from the hospitality and food service sector, leading to the very real prospect of financial ruin for many of our local agri-food industries.”

Mr McAleer concluded: 

“The quality of our agricultural produce and the agri-foods sector as a whole is world renowned. It is a crucial component of our local economy and rural environment.

“Now more than ever, the NI Executive needs financial assistance from both Westminster and the EU to ensure that the industry survives this crisis, continues to remain profitable for farmers and is adequately sustained in the uncertain weeks and months ahead.”  

Committee Membership: