Bill McKendry, NI Conservative candidate for assembly election in Strangford, has pledged to commit himself to representing and working for farmers.
Bill McKendry said ‘ For too long existing parties have paid lip service to farmers issues but have been short on delivery. With the EU referendum coming up soon I will work hard to represent farmers in or out of EU. In the event of a vote to leave the EU by the UK there will be a period of uncertainty as negotiations take place on withdrawal and on lobbying the UK government on any new subsidy, price and regulatory regime .We must prioritize a complete revamp of the current unfair SFP and an efficient food regulatory agency.’
‘With business experience and more recently as a business consultant advising a farm I will ensure you are well represented in the negotiations as it is important that NI has a strong voice to ensure farmers interests are protected. I will ensure that only produce that complies with our exceptionally high standards in animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety regulation can be sold in the UK, thus offering our farmers protection from inferior foreign imports. I wish to see our farm produce bearing highest food safety standards and ensure we are not subject to dumping of cheap products from abroad.’
‘I will work for full roll out of digital communications so farms can get their single farm payments submitted speedily on line to enable early payments. There is still a problem with broadband speeds in rural areas and I will campaign to ensure full roll out of broad band to all areas.’
McKendry believes we should have an open mind to GM foods .He says the delays in decision making imposed by EU sees us falling behind USA and the rest of the world in competitiveness.
‘I believe we must consider a system that allows UK and Ireland to work together in or out of EU rather than wait for the laboured bureaucracy of the EU to make decisions. I will lobby for the appointment of a Chief Scientific Officer for the NI assembly in line with the other devolved regions of UK.’
McKendry asserts the lack the expertise in government is leading to negative decision making due to lack of proper advice e.g. on GM foods and pesticides.
' In or out of EU we need to take control away from unelected European bureaucrats, and give it to people who know what they are doing.’