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Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry attends EU agricultural policy conference on the challenges for Agriculture in Islands and remote regions 7 April 2006

A joint delegation from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and Manx National Farmers Union (MNFU) has explained to a European Union (EU) working committee the challenges of Island farming, and suggested ways in which these challenges might be met.

The delegation was invited to attend an EU agricultural policy conference in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. DAFF Minister, Phil Gawne MHK, was joined by DAFF’s Director of Agricultural Services, Richard Lole, DAFF’s Agriculture Policy Manager, Ed Clague, and the Secretary of the MNFU, Ian Sleight.

About 120 delegates heard the Minister explain his views, including senior officials from the EESC and representatives from most European islands.

Palma de Mallorca
Addressing the conference
. . . . . . . . . .
Palma de Mallorca
EU Conference, Palma de Mallorca

Hon Phil Gawne MHK makes his point to the EU Conference delegates

The Minister commented, “I was delighted to get this opportunity to explain personally and very clearly to EU officials the challenges our farmers face. These challenges are a result of farming in an Island situation, and also in reacting to the World Trade Organisation-led agenda which is currently driving world agricultural policy.”

“I was able to impress on the conference delegates that, given our relatively small scale of production compared to total EU production levels, it is important that Island policies are not dominated by EU-wide rulings,” explained Mr Gawne.

“It is essential that the importance of agriculture’s contribution to the appearance of the countryside and to the social structure of the rural community is acknowledged. EU policies must be flexible enough to allow for variation in small and remote areas, so allowing us to protect our vulnerable agricultural industries.

“It is clear that most islands throughout Europe face similar problems of high production costs, shortages of available labour and difficulties in selling their products for sufficient profits.

“It was re-assuring to see the EU looking specifically at how they might evolve their policies towards islands to provide more appropriate support and legislative frameworks.

“We have pledged to continue working with the EU working committee,” the Minister concluded, “to help develop their ideas and understanding of how improvements to EU agricultural policy can be made.”

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