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Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 25 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the prospects for the agriculture industry in Northern Ireland. [120578]

The Government are negotiating hard for a comprehensive reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy which will put the agricultural industry on a sustainable footing, economically, socially and environmentally. It is implementing a comprehensive range of measures arising out of the Vision exercise to help the Northern Ireland industry and will be providing an additional £33 million over the next three years in support of these initiatives. It is also moving forward on an animal health strategy to help underpin the future viability of the livestock sector and is engaging in an ambitious modernisation agenda within the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure that its structures and services are best positioned to help the industry move forward.