Science is key to help give our farmers and agri-food industry a competitive edge in demanding markets, Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen told an international conference today.
Opening the 67th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) at the Waterfront the Minister told the 1,400 delegates she has ambitious hopes for the local livestock sector and was looking to science to help support policy and innovation.
“In Northern Ireland we are fortunate to have highly skilled and internationally renowned researchers at AFBI, QUB and UU and dedicated educational and advisory services at CAFRE,” Ms McIlveen said.
“In areas where scientists, advisors and local industry partners work together, we create an uninterrupted flow of knowledge and innovation from the research laboratory to the farmyard. That gives us a strong edge in competitive global markets,” she explained to the audience at Europe’s largest animal science conference, which include representatives from 66 countries and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan.
The Minister noted the vital role of science in seeding new innovations for the agri-food sector, in particular the new and exciting possibilities arising from ‘big data’, which allows extremely large amounts of information to be analysed, to underpin new livestock genetic evaluations and benchmarking information.
“In Northern Ireland the livestock sector is moving closer to being a world-leader thanks to the use of the latest research, technology and genetic testing. These aspects give us a cutting-edge when it comes to improved production and use of resources as well as enhanced animal welfare,”she added.
Minister McIlveen concluded: “I have no doubt that the science developments raised at this conference will help create opportunities for our next generation of farmers to work in a modern, information-driven and advanced sector.”