MEP visits east Antrim

As part of a recent visit to the East Antrim constituency Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson met with a group of farmers to discuss a range of local issues and concerns.

The meeting took place in Willowbank Business Park in Larne in conjunction with Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs MLA and Larne Councillors; Alderman Roy Beggs, Mayor of Larne Councillor Maureen Morrow plus Councillor Mark McKinty. The day’s itinerary also included a visit to and tour of Topping Meats.

Speaking after the visit, Mr Nicholson said: “Now that the CAP negotiations have been finalised in Brussels today’s visit was a great opportunity to meet with farmers from the Larne area to discuss the lengthy negotiations process and more importantly the implications of the agreement locally. It was also interesting to listen to the views of farmers regarding the various optional elements available to DARD within the package such as coupled support.

“It is vital that local needs and issues are addressed during the important implementation phase and that there is minimal red-tape and bureaucracy so that the package can be workable at farm level – this is crucial. Because of this it is important that farmers contribute to the consultation on CAP Pillar I Direct Payments which is currently on-going and it is vital that the Minister listens to the views expressed by the industry. We also discussed the heavy snow fall earlier this year, the impact of which continues to be felt by local farm businesses – it is still difficult to contemplate the losses experienced by some farmers as a result of this.”

Mr Nicholson added: “It is always useful to speak with farmers from all sectors of the industry and to hear first-hand the various issues affecting them – this is important given my work in the Agriculture Committee in Brussels where I speak up for the needs of the Northern Ireland industry.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank all the farmers for taking the time to meet with myself and my Ulster Unionist colleagues f and for Alan and Thomas Topping from Topping Meats for welcoming us into their business.”

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