Belfast Telegraph

O’Neill defers export charges 

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill announced today that she has decided to defer charges for export health certificates (EHCs) for meat and dairy products.

The Minister said: “This is an exciting time for agri-food and our industry is well-placed to exploit opportunities for continued growth, both at home and abroad. These opportunities are reflected in the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s aspirations to grow sales by 60% and sales outside the north by 75% by 2020. I want to do everything I can to support these aspirations and am pleased to announce today that I have decided to defer charges for export health certificates. This should be welcome news for the meat and dairy sectors and will support exports.”

The announcement follows a successful, major stakeholder meeting co-hosted by DARD and the Livestock and Meat Commission earlier this week which highlighted the quality and traceability of local meat and formally launched the industry-led Food Fortress Feed Materials Scheme. This scheme is designed to develop the world’s best system to manage risks associated with contamination of the agri-food supply chain.

The Minister continued: “As Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, I have always championed our local agri-food industry and promoted awareness of the wholesome, high quality food produced and processed here. I am delighted that there was such a good turnout at yesterday’s meeting with representatives from across the supply chain and I very much welcome the launch of the industry’s Food Fortress Feed Materials Scheme.”

The Minister added: “There is very considerable optimism and ambition for the future of the agri-food industry, which I fully share. Both these initiatives address key recommendations in Going for Growth and show government and industry’s commitment to delivering on the report. I hope to be in a position to announce the way forward on the report in the near future.”

Notes to editors:

1. Charges were proposed for meat and dairy Export Health Certificates issued by DARD. These certificates are required by importing countries outside the EU to verify that the product is fit for consumption and free from disease. The European Commission has released a draft proposal (Regulation (EC) No 882/2004) which will include provision for charging for official controls. However it is likely to be at least five years and likely longer before the resulting legislation comes into place and currently it is still unclear whether charging will be mandatory. Industry feedback has been opposed to charges as they may create a barrier to export. Minister O’Neill is pleased to defer charging and continue to assist entry to export markets.

2. The Food Fortress Feed Materials Scheme is an industry lead initiative, supported by the Institute of Global Food Security at Queens University, to develop the world’s best system to manage risks associated with contamination of the agri-food supply chain. Further details on the scheme and “Working Together for Growth” event are available on the LMC website at http://www.lmcni.com/

3. Going for Growth is available at http://www.agrifoodstrategyboard.org.uk/pages/33/going-for-growth-report 
 

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