Northern Ireland’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Andrew Muir has told stakeholders that working together is key to delivering real environmental improvement while ensuring economic resilience in the agriculture sector.

The minister met with the Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL) and then the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) where he discussed their many common goals and to hear about the challenges.

Minister Muir said: “I am completely committed to delivering across the full remit of my department, as well as listening to and learning from all sectors and stakeholders.

“These meetings have provided a great opportunity to hear more about the challenges facing both the farming and environmental sectors and to learn more about their key priorities and areas of mutual benefit.

“I am determined to take action as soon as I can on many of the issues raised.”

Minister meets with NIEL and UFU

During his meeting with NIEL, which has almost 200,000 individual and group members with responsibility for over 265,000 acres of land, Muir heard about a range of significant issues that require action.

Minister Muir said: “I had a very productive meeting with NIEL where we discussed a range of issues such as establishment of an Independent Environmental Protection Agency, the issues in Lough Neagh and progress of our various legislative obligations on the environment and climate change.”

The minister then met with the UFU, which represents over 11,500 farmers and growers from across Northern Ireland, and heard about the challenges faced by the sector.

Speaking after this meeting, the Minister said: “It was really useful to hear first-hand the challenges facing our agri-food sector.

“We discussed many issues including future farm support measures, animal health including TB and how we can achieve our challenging environmental objectives.

“I was clear with both NIEL and the UFU that I want us to work together in a constructive way to implement policies and strategies that have the dual aim of a healthy environment and a thriving agri-food sector.

“No one will gain if we pit agriculture and environment against each other.”