Farmer-funded research and development organisation AgriSearch has helped to deliver research worth over £170 million to Northern Ireland’s ruminant livestock sector over the last 20 years.

It comes from less than £8 million of levy payments.

AgriSearch chairman, Michael Bell, described this achievement as a “substantial return on investment” for Northern Ireland’s ruminant sector, and “a tremendous innovation dividend”.

“In its first 20 years, AgriSearch committed £7.7 million of farmer levy funds towards 145 projects – with a total cost of £35 million.

“Based on a conservative 5-10% uptake rate, the value of this research to the Northern Ireland ruminant livestock sector is estimated to be at least £170 million.

“By any standards this is excellent value for money,” he said.

‘Rapidly changing times’

However, AgriSearch’s 20th anniversary is less about looking back than about looking to the future and deciding how it can best serve the needs of ruminant livestock farmers going forward, Bell said.

“We recognise that these are rapidly changing times for the agri-food sector. Many new challenges and opportunities for the entire food supply chain will emerge.

“AgriSearch has produced a publication to mark its anniversary asking experts in the agri-food sector to set out what 20 years of co-funded research has achieved and how our levy payers can rise to the challenge of rapidly changing times,” he added.

Competitive, profitable and sustainable farming

The booklet is entitled ‘Making a Difference for Generations’ and it covers a wide variety of topics, from maximising output from forage to environmental sustainability – and from volatility and big data to the future of food, the chairman of AgriSearch said.

“AgriSearch has commissioned this publication to inform farmers and the wider industry about the challenges and opportunities facing our industry and how modern science and innovation can address many of these challenges.

“We also hope it will stimulate debate and feedback on how AgriSearch can best meet the needs of its farmer levy payers over the next 20 years.

AgriSearch is a small organisation with big ambitions for our industry.

“Only by working as a catalyst with our research partners, our enthusiastic team of farmer co-researchers, the agri-food industry and government can we hope to achieve our aim.

“That remains – to make the Northern Ireland ruminant livestock sector more competitive, profitable and sustainable,” Bell concluded.