Northern Ireland Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots has today (Tuesday, January 25) welcomed three new members to the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) College Advisory Group (CAG).

The role of the group is to provide advice at a strategic and operational level to the management team of CAFRE. 

Barclay Bell has been appointed as member representing the arable/crops sector; Deborah O'Hare will represent the education sector; and Elaine Willis will represent the food processing sector.

The three new members, appointed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), will act for an initial three years from January 1, 2022.

“I welcome the appointments of Mr. Bell, Mrs. O’Hare and Mrs. Willis," said Minister Poots.

"The Advisory Group plays an important role in helping CAFRE deliver excellent services to the farming and Agri-Food sectors and I’m sure that the wealth of experience brought by these new members will enable CAFRE to continue to be recognised as a world leader in Agri-Food education provision.”

About the CAFRE CAG appointees

Barclay Bell is an eighth generation farmer in Co. Down, with experience in cereals, sheep and beef cattle.

He is an experienced board member, a past president of the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) - and a current member of UFU Seeds and Cereal Committee - chair of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) regional board and a trustee of Air Ambulance NI.

He is also vice-chair of the Ulster Arable Society and chair of the arable sub-group of the Greenhouse Gas Implementation Partnership, as well as a member of an arable and environmental business development group.

Deborah O'Hare has been principal of The Wallace High School since 2009. She has a BA Honours degree in French, a post-graduate degree in education, a Master's degree in educational management and a professional qualification in Headship.

Deborah is a former president of the Association of Schools and College Leaders, Northern Ireland (ASCLNI); a former member of the Education Committee of the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), and is a regular contributor to consultations on a range of education, mental health and financial policy across primary, post-primary, FE and HE sectors.

She is a current board member of the South Eastern Regional College (SERC), where she is deputy chair of The Education Committee and a member of The Audit and Risk Committee.

Elaine Willis is the retail operations director at Linden Food Ltd., part of the ABP Food Group, which supplies red meat products to major retailers and food service businesses.

She has a BSc Honours Degree in Food Science and Technology from Loughry College and was previously the head of innovation and business development at Linden Food Group (2007-2016).