Alliance Leader David Ford has called on farmers and others with rural interests to make their views known on the Department of Rural Development’s Review of Agricultural Education.
Mr Ford, who sits on the Assembly Agriculture Committee, said: “The report of the review group needs to be carefully considered by everyone interested in the future of our rural community.”
“Initially, it appeared that the review was concentrating on the link between DARD and Queen’s University. However, it now encompasses the future of the Research Institute at Hillsborough and the three DARD colleges as well.”
“Whatever changes are made, it is important that they ensure a viable future for education in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, food science and rural affairs. There must be firm links between research, education and advice to those working on the ground.”
“At a constituency level, as an MLA for South Antrim, I will be consulting with local farmers’ representatives and staff in Greenmount College. I want to ensure that we build on existing practice – such as the links between Greenmount and the Antrim Campus of the North East Institute. Any changes must be a clear improvement.”
“I have also asked the Assembly committee to examine this proposal in depth, and consult widely, before the July deadline for responses to the Minister.”