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Northern Ireland Action Plan Group meets minister

Date Published: 01/02/2006

The Organic Action Plan Group for Northern Ireland (OAPGNI) met Lord Rooker, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, on 19 January 2006 to discuss its recommendations to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

OAPGNI Chairman, Christopher Stopes
OAPGNI Chairman, Christopher Stopes

OAPGNI is developing an action plan for the development of the local organic sector, and outlined to the Minister their progress to date on this plan.

Christopher Stopes, the Chair of the group, said: “The Minister was very interested to hear of the work of our Group, and of the steps we have already taken in developing an action plan for the organic sector. He was encouraged to hear that growth in the industry was gaining momentum and assured us of his commitment to our work and to the organic sector in Northern Ireland.”

OAPGNI also discussed their call for the introduction of ongoing ‘reward’ payments to organic farmers with Lord Rooker. The group formally recommended the introduction of such payments to DARD last October.

Mr Stopes commented: “The Minister understands our concerns about the introduction of ‘reward’ payments. These payments are available to organic farmers elsewhere in the UK, and in the Irish Republic, and their unavailability in Northern Ireland puts local producers at a commercial disadvantage.”

David Laughlin, John McCormick and Paul Stewart of the OAPGNI accompanied Mr Stopes at the meeting with the Minister.

OF&G Chief Executive, Richard Jacobs, is a member of the OAPGNI.