Agriculture and the environment can flourish in tandem – McIlveen

Date published: 21 October 2016

A co-ordinated and joined up strategy on land management will help to ensure that agriculture and the environment can flourish in tandem.

That was the key message from Agriculture and Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen today as she received a report on ‘Sustainable Agricultural Land Management Strategy’.

The report was compiled by an expert working group, consisting of farmers, environmentalists, officials and food processors, chaired by Dr John Gilliland. This is the first report of its kind for Northern Ireland, providing a number of recommendations on how best to support productive agriculture whilst improving environmental performance.

Speaking at the event at AFBI, Hillsborough, Miss McIlveen said: “I wish to thank the members of the expert working group for their work in producing this strategy document under the chairmanship of Dr John Gilliland.

“Today marks another step forward in the implementation of the Agri Food Strategy Board’s ‘Going for Growth’ report. The Sustainable Agricultural Land Management Strategy is a first for Northern Ireland and is linked to recommendation 22 of ‘Going for Growth’, which called for a strategic regional land management policy.

“This is an excellent example of how a genuine partnership between government, the food chain and the farming and environmental sectors can work together for the common good.

“As Minister for both Agriculture and the Environment, building such vibrant partnerships is an important priority for me. I believe that a coordinated and joined-up strategy will help to ensure that agriculture and the environment, can flourish in tandem," she added.

Dr Gilliland said: "This report seeks to empower farmers and landowners with very farm specific, detailed information on their productivity, their soil fertility, their water and habitat quality. Only then can they make the right decisions for their own land, which will build an inherent resilience in their farm businesses. We believe the Northern Ireland Land Based Sector can deliver true resilient Sustainability – economic, environmental and social; and also become a world exemplar, able to maximise its value from the marketplace."

The Minister concluded: “My officials and I will consider this report carefully in the coming weeks as we examine the potential implementation of these recommendations to deliver my Department’s vision of a thriving and sustainable economy, environment and rural community. This report has the potential to inspire positive change. I look forward to working with farmers, the food chain and the environmental sector as we all endeavour to deliver on that potential."

Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo caption - Members of an expert working group present DAERA Minister Michelle McIlveen with a report on Sustainable Agricultural Land Management Strategy for NI. Pictured (left-right) are; Patrick Casement, Sue Christie, James Brown, Minister Michelle McIlveen, Jonathan Birnie, John Gilliland, Martyn Blair and John Best.
  2. The Sustainable Agriculture Land Management Strategy Document can be downloaded from the DAERA website
  3. The Agri-Food Strategy Board recommended in its ‘Going for Growth’ report that Government should develop a strategic regional land management policy which outlines how best to support productive agriculture whilst improving environmental performance
  4. An independent expert working group of farmers, environmentalists, officials and food processors were selected by Dr Gilliland to develop this strategy and first met in December 2014. Dr John Gilliland is a renowned expert in sustainable land management and climate change, and a former President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union. The Chair and Members serve in an individual and voluntary capacity and are not representative of any organisations with which they may be associated. Two senior civil servants also served on the Expert Working Group: Norman Fulton (then DARD Director of Policy and Economics, now Head of Farming and Food Group in DAERA) and John Speers (then DARD Director of Fisheries and Environment, now Director of Marine and Fisheries in DAERA).
  5. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office:
  6. Please note that the out of office hours pager number has changed. Any queries, please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.
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