New agriculture minister for Northern Ireland as assembly at Stormont is resumed after three years

Edwin Poots has been appointed as the minister at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) after agreement was reached between the governing parties to resume the assembly at Stormont. Poots is a member of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The devolved government collapsed three years ago in acrimony over the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme that has left many poultry farmers out of pocket.

The Ulster Farmers Union said it looked forward to working with the new minister, stressing that due to the absence of an NI Executive over the past three years, many much-needed strategic decisions need to be made with urgency.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said: “Edwin Poots takes on the agriculture brief at a time when the industry is under extreme pressure due to three years of a political vacuum and Brexit. Decisions regarding investment, growth and key animal health issues such as the control of bovine TB, have not been taken and operational issues which the Brexit fall-out could create for our existing trading patterns with our present markets in GB, ROI and the EU, adds further complexity. The local farming industry is already beginning to experience Brexit-related change in terms of the legal basis for direct payments to NI farmers this year and we will need input from Poots as DAERA minister to help us though this challenging process.

“Considerable uncertainty lies ahead for our industry, but the new minister will have our full support. We will work with him and his Executive Ministerial colleagues to make decisions ensuring pressing and strategic issues are addressed as quickly as possible, to safeguard NI’s place in the internal UK market post Brexit and protect and enhance the future viability of our family farms and agri businesses.”

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