The Northern Ireland Agricultural Research and Development Council (AgriSearch) has made changes to its top team, following the departure of chairman Michael Bell.

Pedigree beef and dairy breeder John Henning from Moira (Co. Down) has been named the research charity’s new chairman after Bell was elected vice president of the Institute of Food Science and Technology.

New chairman

Henning (pictured left above) is well known to many in the sector, holding a number of senior positions within the UK agricultural industry.

He is currently a director of the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), governor of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, director of Countryside Services, vice president of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, and a council member of the Council for Awards of Royal Agricultural Societies, as well as an honorary associate of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association.

Henning will be best known to many through his former role as head of agricultural relations at Danske Bank. He is also a past president of the Ulster Grassland Society.

He has been a trustee of AgriSearch since 2014 and was appointed vice chairman in 2016.

He said: “It is a great honour to be appointed the chairman of AgriSearch to succeed Michael Bell who has served the organisation with distinction.

“Since its formation 20 years ago, AgriSearch has delivered for the ruminant livestock sector by maximising research spend and value outcomes for farmers in Northern Ireland.

“I look forward to working with my fellow trustees, our advisory committees and the excellent staff team headed by Jason Rankin to continue this excellent work – with the ongoing challenge being to improve farmer adoption of beneficial research findings,” he added.

New vice chairman

The news comes as AgriSearch announces the appointment of Omagh man Seamus McCaffrey (pictured above right) as its new vice chairman.

McCaffrey specialises in agricultural sector taxation and also has a wide experience of corporate governance.

He is currently a board member of South West College and a team leader at Business in the Community in Northern Ireland.

AgriSearch is an independent charity. The organisation was formed in 1997 to provide a mechanism through which beef, dairy and sheep farmers could have direct involvement in production-orientated research.

Funds contributed to AgriSearch are used to commission research into the improvement and development of these sectors.

AgriSearch’s guiding principle is to provide practical benefits for primary producers to reduce costs, improve performance, drive innovation and improve welfare.