UPPER Bann DUP MLA and former Chair of the NI Assembly Agriculture Committee, Stephen Moutray, has added his support to the DUP response to a Dept of Agriculture review of the Agricultural Wages Board for Northern Ireland.
He said: “The Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) was established in 1977 to help encourage people to stay and work in their rural communities.
“However that was long before the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1998. In many respects recent developments have rendered the work of the AWB obsolete.
“Indeed the AWB is to be abolished in England and Wales as it is no considered to serve the purpose it was created for.
“The DARD review needs to be truly meaningful. I would call upon the Minister to show that she will act in the best interests of the agricultural industry in this, and that she will not simply rubber stamp the failed status quo.
“It is fairly obvious that the AWB is now nothing more than yet another level of unnecessary, expensive bureaucracy. The finances ploughed into the AWB by the Dept would be far better invested in delivering frontline services to farmers.
“Reducing bureaucracy and freeing up resources and money for real and beneficial change is what is needed especially at a time when farmers are being financially disadvantaged,
“For this reason I fully support the DUP call for the Minister to abolish the AWB, in line with Westminster in order to benefit members of the Banbridge farming community.”