Northern Ireland farmers have written to the Northern Minister for Agriculture looking for the Agri Food Strategy Board (AFSB) to provide a long-term template for agricultural production.

The Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association; the Severally Disadvantaged Area Association Group; the National Beef Association and Farmers For Action said that while they noted the progress of the current Agri Food Strategy Board (AFSB) a template for the longer term futures of agricultural production is needed.

They also called for the Board to be put under regular and independent scrutiny.

“As representatives of the core element of the industry, the primary producers, we do have concerns and reservations about the future of our industry which we believe needs to be further addressed,” a spokesperson said.

“We believe that as the term of office for the current chair ends on February 19, 2015, and we anticipate having a new fully independent chair, it would also be an ideal opportunity to refocus and potentially restructure the board to include representation of primary producers who so far are under-represented.”

Farm gate incomes returning the cost of production plus an inflation linked margin are the least to be expected by Northern Ireland farmers the primary link in the food chain, in fact the indispensable part, the spokesperson said.

“This is why we believe there should be an equitable benefit and rural proofing from the outworkings of the Agri Food Strategy Board and projects going forward and where we believe there must be more input from this sector.”