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Brexit Consultative Committee

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 3rd October 2016.

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Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 3rd October 2016

T3. Mr Murphy asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to state the relevant stakeholders from her side on the Brexit consultative committee that has been set up between her Department and the Department for the Economy. (AQT 268/16-21)

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for his question. They were all relevant from my side. They are: the Agri-Food Strategy Board, the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association, Dairy UK Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association, Environment Link, the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the Northern Ireland Fish Producers' Organisation, the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association and the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association. I also had David Dobbin represented, who is an EU agricultural task force member. Moy Park was also represented on that committee.

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for her answer. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of people with a lot of experience on that, but there seems to be one gap in relation to rural groups, who, obviously, are very important in delivering economic and social outcomes on the ground and will be heavily dependent on EU funding for their existence and to assist in the good work that they provide on the ground. Will the Minister look to that gap in provision on this group and see whether there is an opportunity to fill it with some of the people who have that experience?

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for his question. I recognise that there is that gap, but this particular group is the agri-food and environment consultative group. I was very much aware that rural groups were not included, but I did not feel that this group was appropriate for them. I have met with the rural groups and have given them my assurance that they will be involved in the conversation, but there is probably a more appropriate forum for them to have a conversation with me and my officials. It was the same with the environment side. The Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL) is the representative, as an umbrella group, for the environment sector, but the group is weighted to the agri-food side. I have given the environment groups a commitment that their voices will not be lost either and that there will be appropriate engagement with myself and my officials on the environmental side. So, I have considered that, but I did not feel that this particular group was the best place for their voice to be adequately heard.