Agri-Food Strategy Board Chair Tony O’Neill, along with UFU President and AFSB Member, Ian Marshall, recently met with Phil Hogan, the EC’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development to outline the Vision of the AFSB and the role that the EC might have in helping to deliver it.
The AFSB’s strategic action plan Going for Growth identifies an increase of 60% in turnover and 15,000 additional jobs in the agri-food sector.
For this growth to be sustainable, it must be based on the foundations of environmental sustainability, strengthened supply chains and increased innovation in products, processes and technologies.
These foundations are common threads running through the EC’s Rural Development Programme and Tony O’Neill, the AFSB Chair took time to outline to Commissioner Hogan how the aspirations of the AFSB were aligned with those of the Commission.
“We were very pleased to be able to explain the vision of Going for Growth to Commissioner Hogan in some detail,” explained Mr O’Neill.
“We took the opportunity to outline the importance of developing the local supply chain to secure the sustainability of the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland. The AFSB’s aspirations for growth in the agri-food sector mirror the principles of the European Union’s own jobs and growth strategy, Europe 2020, which aims to create the conditions for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
“The Commissioner is aware of the role that the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme will have in delivering the aims and objectives of the Agri-Food Strategy Board, particularly with our shared commitment to supply chain integration and the importance of maintaining our clean, green image when seeking new markets across the globe.
“We were also interested to hear about the Commission’s recent announcement regarding financial instruments and we believe that consideration should be given as to how these might be used alongside existing plans within the draft RDP.”
The Agri-Food Strategy Board was appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to develop a Strategic Action Plan for the NI Agri-Food Sector.
For more information on the AFSB, please visit the website: www.agrifoodstrategyboard.org.uk,