Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Labour reveals rural economy plans

Labour has vowed to fight to retain the 1.3 billion euro Common Agriculture Policy

Labour has pledged to fight to retain the 1.3 billion euro Common Agriculture Policy funding for farmers if elected to power.

Launching the party's plan for the rural economy, agriculture spokesman Sean Sherlock said CAP reform poses significant challenges for the agri-food sector.

"In government, Labour will work to retain our 1.3 billion euro CAP funding envelope," Mr Sherlock said. "Our negotiating position at EU level is predicated on retaining this envelope."

The party has also promised to grow the dairy and meat sectors, and help Irish farms expand by supporting a Single Farm Payment system rewarding innovation and which would include younger farmers.

Mr Sherlock said more needs to be done to boost the tourism sector.

"The food and tourism sectors currently employ in the region of 400,000 people but the potential is much greater," Mr Sherlock said. "With proper planning and political leadership both sectors can be drivers of economic recovery.

"Tourism has suffered a decline in recent years and specific steps are required to reverse this trend."

The party proposed extending the free rail travel for visitors aged over 66 to all CIE services during off-peak periods.

An intensive marketing campaign would be set up to woo visitors from China, India, Japan, Russia and the Middle East with the visa requirements eased for such visitors.

The party also pledged to boost the number of ferries travelling in and out of the country as an alternative to air travel, attract more international events such as the Volvo Ocean Race, and hold Culture Night twice a year.

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