McIlveen urges Agriculture Minister to support potato sector

Strangford MLA Michelle McIlveen along with potato farmers met with the Agriculture Minister and senior officials regarding the lack of support to the sector following the autumn floods which destroyed local crops.

By Michelle McIlveen MLA


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Commenting on the meeting, Miss McIlveen said:

“Since the flooding occurred I have been lobbying for assistance for this sector. It is vital to the sustainability of this staple agri-food in Northern Ireland that our government steps in to help. I met with officials on site, engaged with the Permanent Secretary as well as tabling written questions with the Minister. I was disappointed that the position of the Department that government intervention is unlikely to confer a net benefit to the NI economy that would justify expenditure. For this reason, DAERA has not implemented a support scheme. I was, however, encouraged that the Minister had offered to meet with the sector and I was happy to facilitate this meeting.

It was important for the Minister to hear at first hand the concerns and challenges facing a sector whose whole seasonal crop had been wiped out. The huge cost in preparing fields, sowing and caring for a crop which is then lost would be devastating for any small business.

I was pleased that the Minister took the time to meet with us. I believe it was a positive meeting which identified a number of keys issues which the Department had not taken into account. While there no commitments made by the Minister, I would hope that a more favourable consideration could be made on this important matter.”

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