Northern Ireland’s food industry leaders have called on the Northern Ireland Executive to publish the Independent Strategic Review of the NI Agri-Food Sector at the earliest opportunity.

In April 2021, Ministers Diane Dodds and Edwin Poots launched the review, led by former National Farmers Union president Sir Peter Kendall, to consider the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

Nick Whelan, Chair, Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) said:

The past year saw multiple challenges for Northern Ireland food and drink, from the end of the Brexit transition period to the ongoing challenge of recovery from the pandemic and labour shortages.

"As we continue to navigate our way through these issues, while also addressing the long term challenges of UK Net Zero and inflation, we need to see a strategy from the Northern Ireland Executive on the way forward for food and drink –Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing sector.

“We have been eagerly anticipating the publication of Sir Peter Kendall’s report, and look forward to seeing his recommendations for industry and government. We are committed to new levels of collaboration between farmers, processors and government to deliver on innovation, sustainability and increased growth.”

UFU President, Victor Chestnutt, also stressed the importance of having this report published now.

The local farming industry is at a crossroads and while there are many challenges that we all have to face, there are currently very significant opportunities to shape the future of our industry for the benefit of not just our present and next generation of farmers, but also our wider NI environment and economy.

"A DAERA consultation on ‘Future Agricultural Policy Proposals for Northern Ireland’ is currently underway and it would be extremely useful to have this related wider agri-food Report issued at this time so that a collaborative approach across the industry for its future could be ensured”.