NORTH Antrim MLA Paul Frew, who is DUP Spokesperson for Agriculture and Rural Development, has led a delegation from the ARD Committee in Stormont to Brussels on a two day visit to discuss with MEPs, officials, business and Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, issues relating to Agriculture and fishing.
“It was a very busy two days but well worth it as we were able to discuss all the issues that are of utmost importance to the Farming and fishing communities at this time.
“We attended the European Seafood Exposition ,the worlds largest seafood fair to visit and support Northern Ireland’s sea food industry to support local business and to see the scale of the global market place that they are competing in.
“We had a very worthwhile meeting with all our MEPs including Diane Dodds DUP MEP who outlined the problems that they are encountering in Europe and how we can help in the ARD committee.
“We met with officials from our permanent representation team to the EU as well as meeting with officials involved in the Irish presidency of the EU over the past few months.
“There is no doubt CAP reform is the major piece of work ongoing in Europe and it is vital that Northern Ireland has a massive presence in the negotiations in order that we get the best deal possible regarding the greening of pillar 1 funding, Regional flexibility and the definition of an Active Farmer to name but a few.
“We also discussed the Common Fisheries Policy and the issues around discards, selective fishing gears and regionalisation.
“Other issues discussed were Bovine TB, tree disease and plant health, food fraud and the horse meat scandal.
“It was great also that the Secretary of State could take time to meet with myself and the ARD Committee and to listen to what we had to say on all these very important issues and to press to her the importance that the Farming and Fishing industry has in Northern Ireland’s economy and ways which she could assist when she is out in Brussels and in Westminster working with our MEPs and MPs.”