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EU vote a shot in arm for Northern Ireland's agri-food sector: McIlveen

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 16/09/2016

Optimistic: Michelle McIlveen
Optimistic: Michelle McIlveen

The vote to leave the European Union has helped boost Northern Ireland's agri-food industry, MLAs have been told.

Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen said there had been a rise in sheep, cattle and dairy prices in the wake of June's referendum result.

Addressing a Stormont scrutiny committee, the DUP minister added: "Since the referendum, we have witnessed a positive impact on our agri-food industry.

"We have seen a significant depreciation on the value of sterling compared to both the euro and dollar, and this is beneficial to exporting companies.

"As a result, there has been an improvement on the price of sheep, cattle and milk for our local farmers.

"Northern Ireland goods are more competitive in export markets and the costs of food products coming into the UK are more expensive compared to locally produced products."

Devaluation of sterling could also mean a better rate on the value of basic farm payments to farmers, the minister explained.

Miss McIlveen, who was appointed to her position in May, appeared before the agriculture committee to outline her priorities as the UK moves towards exiting the European Union following the historic vote.

"We must ensure our continued ability to trade effectively and profitably," she said. "It is vital that we get the best deal possible for Northern Ireland."

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