Committee Urges Minister to Act on Strategy for Agri-food Sector
Date: Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Reference: AGR 06/11/12
The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has been briefed by Minister O’Neill on the role the agri-food sector can play in the Northern Ireland economy.
Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chairperson, Paul Frew MLA said, “The Committee acknowledges the starring role the agri-food sector is playing and its significant and growing contribution to Northern Ireland’s economy.
“The Committee has been concerned about the lack of a detailed strategy from the Department with clear targets, and which is embedded in the Programme for Government, to assist the agri-food sector. The Committee does not want any barriers to the sector as it seeks to compete with the agri-food industry in Britain, Republic of Ireland and the rest of the world and we will be interested to see how the Minister’s vision for the sector is developed in the weeks, and months, ahead.
“We believe that the Focus on Food strategy of May 2010, jointly produced by the Departments for Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Agriculture and Rural Development, does need to be developed, urgently, to ensure that a longer term strategic vision for the entire industry is put in place, especially to exploit export opportunities.
“The Committee welcomes the fact that the Minister is seeking to embed all this in the Programme for Government, agrees that the strategy should be industry led but we will wait for more detail.
Notes to Editors:
Figures from the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association report an annual turnover of £3.2bn with 92,000 people employed either directly or indirectly in the sector.
Mr Paul Frew – Chairperson
Mrs Dolores Kelly – Deputy Chairperson
Mr Thomas Buchanan
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr Willie Clarke
Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson
Mr William Irwin
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Oliver McMullan
Mr Conor Murphy
Mr Robin Swann