The new Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, Michelle McIlveen, has said that she will give her full attention to addressing farmers’ difficulties in her term in office.

Speaking following her appointment, the DUP Assembly Minister said that she is aware of the significant challenges that face the North’s agri-food industry.

She said that she will work with the Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton, to help open new market opportunities for the local industry in the North.

Under the new Executive in the North, DARD has been replaced by DAERA, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Minister McIlveen has said that DAERA will play an important role in promoting Northern Ireland’s agri-food and fisheries industries and in protecting its environment.

“The new Department has wide-ranging responsibilities which impact all our citizens. I am very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities it will bring.”

I want to ensure that DAERA helps to strengthen Northern Ireland’s economy by sustainably growing our agri-food and fisheries industries.

“We must capitalise and deliver on the significant opportunities offered through initiatives such as ‘Going for Growth’ and the ‘Year of Food and Drink 2016’.”

The Minister added that the creation of DAERA and the new Assembly mandate also provide the opportunity to address challenges around the protection and improvement of the natural environment.

“In the years ahead, we must enhance water quality, conserve habitats and species, and support improvements in recycling and resource management,” she concluded.