Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has called on the minister to decide on the future of funding to farmers.
The chair of the Assembly’s Agriculture committee said:
“The Area of Natural Constraints Scheme (ANC) provides farmers with much-needed funds.
“The Ulster Farmers Union, the Agricultural Producers' Association and Belfast Hill Farmers gave a presentation to the agriculture committee today.
“Each of them outlined the importance of ANC payments to their livelihoods and asked the minister to give assurances on future payments as soon as possible.
“Hill farmers and indeed all farmers play a valuable role in the food production chain but also in their management of the land and the environment.
“It is undisputed that the hill farmers are at a distinct disadvantage and the ANC payments which they are currently getting must continue to ensure they are sustainable.
“It is essential we protect our hill farmers and all farmers alike. That is why it is essential they find out about the payments now so they can make plans for the incoming year.
“I have called on the minister to provide a timeline as to when she will be making a decision regarding ANC payments and for some detail on how they will be funded.”