Lisburn Councillor Robbie Butler has said the constituency’s farming industry could be boosted by increased partnerships between rural and urban areas.
Councillor Butler added such partnerships would also create better understanding and co-operation between the urban and rural communities, not just in his native Lagan Valley, but right across the other 17 constituencies.
He said: “The development of such progressive schemes would help to provide more professional educational visits to farms and would encourage a new respect and understanding for the farming community among many of our constituencies’ urban dwellers.
“There is an unfortunate perception in our Province that many people from a non-rural background simply do not understand agricultural issues, or even appreciate the crisis which our farming sector has suffered in recent years. “For example, we in Lagan Valley have seen representatives from rural and urban communities unite and campaign together to combat proposals which could environmentally damage our constituency.
“However, there remains this perceived lack of understanding and appreciation between the farming and urban sectors in many parts of Northern Ireland .
“This, in turn, has pointed to a radical need to bridge this knowledge gap in our community. “In bridging this apparent town-country gap, education will be a crucial factor. “Farms wishing to host school visits should be supported in providing children with a safe, enjoyable and educational environment.
“Such support would bring all farms involved to a higher standard by training farmers and offering advice on farm improvements,”