Food Strategy Framework

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:00 pm on 13th April 2021.

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Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP 1:00 pm, 13th April 2021

T5. Mr T Buchanan asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for an update on the future food strategy framework. (AQT 1165/17-22)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

We have done considerable work on that, and we are at the point of making an appointment to take that forward along with the Economy Minister. That is being progressed and will be announced next week. Given the sad death of the Duke of Edinburgh, we do not propose to make the announcement this week.

Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP

I thank the Minister for his response. Perhaps he can give us some indication of the role that Departments can play in supporting Northern Ireland food producers.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Our Department is clear that we want to see Northern Ireland at its best. Many of our farmers are at their best, are achieving really great things and are world leaders. Others are somewhat behind, so the benchmarking of good quality, identifying what is achievable and encouraging people to be progressive in their agricultural practice are all very important.

How we use the climate change agenda to develop new interests on our farms is also important. Can we take our excess of farm nutrients and develop them into something that is sellable to other parts of the world that lack those nutrients? We have a surplus and they have a deficit, so can we invest in capturing those materials in a way that enables us to sell them as a product and have a win-win situation for the environment and the agri-food sector?

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

That ends the time for questions to the Minister. I ask Members to take their ease for a few minutes until our next period of questions, which are to the Minister for Communities.

(Mr Principal Deputy Speaker [Mr Stalford] in the Chair)