24 September 2020 - Page 4

NOVEMBER 09 2017
Brokenshire rules out NI staying in single market
LTHOUGH it would be
impossible for Northern
Ireland to remain in the
EU single market while Britain
remained outside of it, there could
be some flexibility in regard to agrifood sector, the Secretary of State
has suggested.
James Brokenshire said “subtle
distinctions” already existed
between agricultural regulation in
Northern Ireland and Great Britain
which could facilitate a potential
all-island approach to trade in food
commodities which avoided a hard
He pointed to past challenges
such as the devastating foot-and-
mouth outbreak of 2001 to illustrate
how differing approaches were
adopted in NI and GB.
The MP made the comments while
speaking in Brussels this week
where he gave senior EU figures an
update on the political deadlock
in NI and met with EU Agriculture
Commissioner Phil Hogan and chief
negotiator Michel Barnier.
Ruling out any notion that NI may
be allowed to remain within the
single market and customs union,
without the rest of the UK, Mr
Brokenshire said: “I find it difficult
to imagine how Northern Ireland
could somehow remain in while
the rest of the country leaves — I
would find it impossible.
“But as we have made equally
clear we are determined to find
bespoke solutions to Northern
Ireland’s unique circumstances,
not least as the only part of the UK
to share a land border with an EU
Member State.”
He cited the case of the foot-andmouth outbreak as an example
of when the island of Ireland was
treated differently from the UK.
“There are slightly, subtly
different standards across the
whole of the UK and (that is) why
Northern Ireland and Ireland
are aligned as a separate unit as
contrasted with Great Britain,”
he said.
“When we had foot-and-mouth
and the outbreak there in Great
Britain we were able to maintain
that separation between livestock
in Northern Ireland as contrasted
with all the challenges we were
experiencing in Great Britain.”
He also pointed to past NorthSouth co-operation as a sign of
what the future could hold for
the agri-food sector, stating: “It is
important to note that North-South
cooperation on agriculture has
enabled the island of Ireland to be
treated in policy and operational
terms as a single epidemiological
unit for the purposes of animal
Fire destroys Celebrating 25 years of the FQAS
farmer’s winter
hay supply
LARGE shed fire has
destroyed an entire supply of
winter hay and straw, as well
as farm machinery, at premises
belonging to Randalstown farmer
James Alexander.
It is understood the fire was
already well alight when the Fire
Service was alerted to it on Sunday
(November 5) evening. Crews
from Magherafelt and Antrim Fire
Stations continued to battle the
blaze for almost 24 hours before
it was brought under control the
following evening.
Mr Alexander is a familiar face in
the farming world having appeared
several time on UTV’s Rare Breeds
programme with his Jalex suckler
beef herd. He also runs a farm
machinery sales business along
with his father Nelson.
Fortunately no livestock were
killed in the fire, the cause of
which is still under investigation.
farm pulpit
He spreads the snow like
wool and scatters the frost
like ashes. He hurls down
hail like pebbles. Who can
withstand his icy blast? He
sends his word and melts
them; he stirs up his breezes,
and the waters flow.
Psalm 147 v16-18
Send your favourite biblical verse
to Farm Pulpit, FarmWeek,
113-117 Donegall Street, Belfast
Future bright
for FQAS beef
From page one
underestimate the
LEFT: Pictured
damage a food scare
at the dinner to
can do,” he warned.
mark the 25th
“Everything can unravel
anniversary of
quickly and trust is
the Farm Quality
hard to build up again.”
Assured Scheme,
He urged producers to
from left, Ian
comply with the rules of
Stevenson, CEO
the FQAS to protect the
LMC, Richard
local beef brand and its
Wright, who chaired reputation.
the event, Professor
Professor Wall’s
Patrick Wall,
upbeat message was
UCD, and Gerard
part of the celebration
McGivern, Chairman to mark the 25th
anniversary of the Farm
Quality Assurance
Scheme. The Livestock
and Meat Commission’s
Chief Executive,
Ian Stevenson, had
previously outlined the
origins of the scheme
has been anathema to many in the public.”
which was launched
However, he made it clear that it was not the
in the heady days
function of the inquiry to determine civil or
of the Albert Heijn
criminal liability in relation to anyone connected
supermarket’s contract
to RHI and would not be assessing whether
as a promotional
all the individual claimants were using it
vehicle for the
Greenfields branded
There was a public outcry about the scheme
after a whistleblower contacted Northern
Ireland’s first and deputy first ministers in
Early in 1992 the
January 2016 to allege that the RHI scheme was
scheme had already
being abused.
attracted 870 farmers
One of the claims they made was that a farmer
before its official launch
was aiming to collect about £1m over 20 years for
in March. By September
heating an empty shed while it was also alleged
of that year Albert Heijn
that large factories that had not previously been
was buying exclusively
heated were using the scheme to install boilers
FQAS beef. Now the
with the intention of running them around the
scheme has some
clock to collect about £1.5m over 20 years.
12,000 members and
The scheme was shut down in February 2016 by
Mr Stevenson said he
the then Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell when
believes it will go from
its flaws became known.
Inquiry into RHI Scheme begins
PUBLIC inquiry has started into the
troubled Renewable Heating Incentive
(RHI) Scheme.
Expected to last well into next year, the inquiry
will investigate the design and operation of RHI,
a green energy scheme intended to incentivise
businesses to change to renewable energy and
use mainly wood pellets rather than fossil fuels
to run boilers.
However, the scheme ran into trouble when
subsidy tariffs were set too high and without a
cap, leaving it open to a potential overspend of
up to £700 million — leading some to dub it the
“cash for ash” scandal.
In his opening statement on Tuesday, David
Schoffield QC described the furore around the
scheme as having reached such “fever pitch” that
it struck at the very heart of Northern Ireland’s
political institutions.
He said the notion that “money might being
going up in smoke which could otherwise pay for
doctors, nurses, teachers, policemen and so on
health and welfare.
“It is something we remain firmly
open minded about to ensure
we prevent a hard border from
emerging, and I think it is this
comprehensive approach that will
be needed, looking at customs,
looking at regulatory issues, and
looking at how you deal with
enforcement smartly, that really
does provide the answers and
solutions that we believe are out
there, that can be created to ensure
we don’t see a hard border.”
However, he stressed that this
must be done “without creating
barriers east-west in terms of the
internal UK market.”
strength to strength in
the years ahead.
He also commended
the scheme
participants, without
whose passion and
commitment the
scheme would not be
possible. The LMC has
produced a specially
commissioned video
featuring Sam Chesney,
Pat Turley and John
Martin, explaining the
benefits of the scheme
for their farms.
Gerard McGivern,
chairman of LMC,
said that the scheme
was one of the longest
running quality
assurance schemes
in the world and it is
now regarded as a
vital tool in competing
on a global scale.
He said the scheme
gives consumers the
confidence that their
food is safe and that it
‘ticks all the boxes’.
Mr McGivern added
that the scheme
underpins industry
development and will
be crucial in seeking
out new markets in the
post-Brexit era.
The dinner in La Mon
House, Gransha, was
attended by industry
and a selection of
farmers who have
been members of the
scheme since its
inauguration 25
years ago.


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