The Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association is pleased to have the opportunity to comment on the DARD Draft Budget 2015/16.

The rural economy needs a vibrant farm sector to keep prosperity and employment in the countryside and we believe the potential for growth in the agrifood industry is the major opportunity for the economy in Northern Ireland.

We had hoped that the budget proposed by DARD would recognise this opportunity and direct all available resources to the support of competitive and profitable food production . We note with concern the absence of an immediate response to the urgent needs of the industry for funding initiatives to progress the Going for Growth Strategy which is so important to the development of agriculture in Northern Ireland.

This can only result in a serious loss of momentum which will undermine the good work which has been carried out to date. It is disappointing to see scarce resources used for projects which do not bring any benefit to the industry.

We have indicated our opposition to the move of the DARD Headquarters to Ballykelly in earlier communications and it is disappointing to see that this project remains a priority. I trust these comments are useful and hope that they can be given serious consideration.

Robin Irvine NIGTA