NORTHERN IRELAND - Growing Northern Ireland’s agricultural markets is one of the main aims of the Northern Ireland government.
Agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill (pictured) speaking recently at the Balmoral Show said that while the industry had faced significant challenges the Northern Irish agriculture department had a vital role to play in opening new markets and supporting exports.
She said that the country’s veterinary expertise, coupled with robust systems and procedures helps provide assurance to customers that it operates to high standards and offer top-quality agri-exports.
The Minister said that, in the last year alone, beef and pork exports have gained access to additional markets in the Middle East, India, Thailand and across Africa.
She said: "I am hopeful that 2015 will prove even more exciting in terms of furthering new market access across all meat sectors.
“My officials have been working closely with our beef and lamb processors to make preparations for an eagerly awaited approval inspection by US officials which I hope will take place later this year."
The minister recently welcomed a Chinese trade delegation to the country and she said that she too will be visiting China shortly.
In a wide-ranging speech, the Minister also signalled her desire to ensure access to markets where bans have been introduced.
She said: "The embargo introduced by South Africa as a result of Avian Influenza in Britain had a significant impact on our poultry industry exports and I welcome the reopening of this market.
“However, during the embargo we were also able to open markets in Africa and areas in Europe outside of the EU zone, to help mitigate the impact of the ban."
The Minister reiterated her point that co-operation across industry throughout the island is key to supporting exports.
"We continue to make great strides in securing entry into new markets but maintaining that access is also vitally important,” she said.
“Our ability to trade must be supported by all links in the supply and marketing chain.
“This means that industry takes the lead in identifying its priorities, government supports within its available resources and politicians, like me, play our part diplomatically so that we work together for the good of the sector and the local economy.
“As part of this process, my department is also working to overcome barriers to trade associated with certification, labelling and animal health and welfare."
Turning to the dairy industry, the minister said last year’s 20 per cnet uplift in exports shows an increased worldwide demand for produce from the north and added that further growing dairy exports will hopefully play a part in helping to turn around the recent decline in milk prices.
TheMeatSite News Desk