The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has welcomed the appointment of Edwin Poots as minister at the Deparmtnet of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
The Lagan Valley DUP MLA appointment comes after the restoration of the power-sharing executive following a three-year absence.
The UFA said the three-year absence meant much-needed strategic decisions had 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 Mr Poots as DAERA minister to help us though this challenging process.”
Ferguson said the industry faced considerable uncertainty, but committed to working with Minister Poots to ensure “pressing and strategic issues” were addressed as quickly as possible.
Poots comes from a farming background and was previously a student at Greenmount College in Antrim. He previously held roles as NI minister for health from 2011 to 2014 and before that was minister for the environment, as well as holding a 13-month stint as minister for culture, arts and leisure.
Poots also served on the agriculture, environment and rural affairs committee and was a strong supporter of Brexit in the runup to the 2016 referendum.
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