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Minister Smith visits Balmoral Show

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today visited the Balmoral show in Belfast and met with the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA.

Speaking at the show, the Minister emphasised his commitment to the ongoing close co-operation between the two Departments across a range of issues of mutual interest. Minister Smith noted, in particular, his determination and that of his Department to continue the close working relationship with Minister Gildernew and DARD to maintain the island's bluetongue-free status.

Minister Smith also took the opportunity to restate the Government's commitment to seek a balanced outcome to the ongoing WTO negotiations. Mr Smith said that the Irish Government's consistent position was to seek a balanced outcome, which does not undermine Irish and European agriculture and delivers real benefits to the industrial and services sectors.

Mr Smith said that the Government had voiced its concerns to the EU Commission at all levels and at every opportunity. This will continue and Minister Smith said he would be taking the matter up at the Agriculture Council on Monday next.

The Minister also made reference to the forthcoming CAP Health Check and said that he would be pursuing real simplification of the Single Farm Payment and other CAP measures, the avoidance of the proposed large increase in compulsory modulation and ambitious annual increases in milk quotas. Minister Smith described these targets as major issues for Irish farmers which he was determined to pursue.

Mr Smith expressed his appreciation to Minister Gildernew for the invitation to visit the Balmoral Show and for the opportunity of an early meeting.

15 May 2008

Date Released: 15 May 2008