SOUTH DOWN MP Margaret Ritchie has said that local politicians must do more to push for reforms of agricultural policy in Brussels that create a fairer future for the industry across Ireland.
Speaking at the SDLP Conference in Armagh on Saturday 10 November Ms Ritchie said: “The next few years in Brussels are crucial in setting the agenda for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, which will determine the future of our rural economy for generations. We need solutions that are responsive to the needs of the agriculture industry across the island and there needs to be a greater recognition of the benefits of greater regionalisation within the reforms. If our economy is to thrive we need to support our local producers and develop a competitive agri-foods sector.
“We need to use every political lever we have to persuade Brussels that a better deal is possible for our agricultural industry and the DARD Minister has not done enough to press our case. There must be a co-operative approach between the industry, the local community and government to sustain and build the agricultural economy on an all-island basis.
“Electing an SDLP Member of the European Parliament in 2014 is the best way to ensure that a local voice is heard in Brussels.”