It appears Minister Poots has made meeting the Stormont Agriculture Committee one of his first ports of call since returning to the agriculture brief late on Monday (March 8).

Tensions had been rising over the last few weeks as members complained stand-in minister Gordon Lyons had repeatedly declined their invitations to attend.

Members said they were frustrated to read notices in the farming press highlighting Lyons had been meeting with industry stakeholder groups during his tenure.

Last week, the committee heard the department had begun to take steps towards a judicial review over Lyons’ decision to halt SPS charging and customs infrastructure work at the ports.

Also Read: DAERA takes steps towards judicial review over minister’s port decisions

‘Close to back to my old self’

Minister Poots took a break from his role just five weeks ago to undergo cancer treatment after a tumour was discovered during his appendix operation last year.

Committee members welcomed the minister back to his role at the meeting, which started at 9:30am this morning.

“[I’m] close to back to my old self – still a wee bit to go,” Poots said. “But well on the way there.”

Poots will speak about the resilience of the local food supply chain and the future of farm support.

The session will be followed by questions from members of the committee.

More to follow on this story on Agriland.