After the DUP indicated its intention to return to Stormont, the process has moved quickly and we can expect ministers to be in place across government departments in the coming days.

Crucial for farmers is which MLA, and from what party, takes the position at DAERA.

Since 2007, the agriculture portfolio has been held by either Sinn Fein or the DUP, but it is quite possible that either an Ulster Unionist or an Alliance MLA is appointed this time around. The SDLP is not entitled to a ministerial post.

In 2020, DAERA was again the last pick under Stormont’s D’Hondt process and it will be no surprise if it is a similar outcome in 2024.

But much will also depend on what the parties agree around the appointment of a new justice minister and whether the Alliance Party is again asked to take the role.

If independent MLA Claire Sudgen were to take justice, then Alliance would have third pick of the remaining seven departments (and are unlikely to choose agriculture), so DAERA would probably go to either Sinn Fein (sixth pick) or the Ulster Unionists (pick seven).

Where an Alliance MLA is the new justice minister, then they automatically have the last pick of the seven departments.

The prospect of an Alliance minister is of some concern, given the position taken by the party during the last mandate around important issues such as climate change legislation and a badger cull.

But it is easy to take a hard-line stance when in opposition and any ministers will be judged by their actions going forward.

Either way, they face a massive in-tray, including whether to proceed with legislation to deliver a targeted badger cull in TB hotspot areas.

There will also be pressure from environmentalists around ammonia emissions and water quality, and decisions to be made around future agricultural policy development. While previous DAERA Minister Edwin Poots set the direction of travel for an overhaul of farm payments, many of the changes are yet to be delivered and could be amended by a new incumbent.

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