NI's agriculture minister quits farming to avoid conflict of interest

NI's farming minister Edwin Poots is to step back from agriculture (Photo: Northern Ireland Assembly/Flickr)
NI's farming minister Edwin Poots is to step back from agriculture (Photo: Northern Ireland Assembly/Flickr)

Northern Ireland's newly appointed agriculture minister Edwin Poots is to step back from farming in order to prevent any potential conflict of interest.

Mr Poots, who grew up on a mixed farm near Lisburn, said on Tuesday (21 January) that he was finalising the paperwork to give effect to the decision.

It comes as he was appointed the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs' (DAERA) new agriculture minister earlier this month.

In his new role, Mr Poots said he wanted to take a 'common sense' approach to future farming policy in Northern Ireland.



The minister also said that the issue of climate change is set to be the biggest challenge the farming industry will face.

“If we get to the point where we have a sustainable environment but no food to feed it with, that’s not very sustainable,” he said.



“We face many challenges and the environment is going to be a very significant one.

“Having a department of agriculture and environment together means we can work with the agriculture side, in particular, to reduce its carbon footprint,” Mr Poots added.

“We hope there will be many ‘win-wins’ and we can assist farmers to reduce their ammonia and methane emissions, while at the same time allowing production to increase further.”

Michelle McIlveen was the last person to hold the DAERA farming minister post, from 2016 to 2017.