£10m for new AFBI and CAFRE beef facilities
Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced £10m of funding to commence the development of new beef facilities at AFBI and CAFRE.
This new facilities project will integrate the future delivery of research, technology transfer and education at AFBI, Hillsborough and Greenmount Campus.
Announcing the investment, Minister Poots said: “To ensure the Northern Ireland beef industry has a vibrant future as a trading sector, we must keep pace with our competitors and aim to outperform them. The current beef facilities at AFBI and CAFRE are no longer fit for purpose and this investment will ensure that they both have the capacity to carry out leading research and demonstrate technologies which assist the delivery of education programmes that have the potential to be adopted on beef farms across Northern Ireland over the next 20 to 30 years.
“These new facilities will be critical to ensuring the positive contribution of beef production to the management of the rural environment and supporting the rural economy. In so doing the project will provide multiple long term benefits for the Northern Ireland beef industry, agri-food industry and wider economy.”
Concluding Minister Poots said: “The commitment of £10m to commence the development of these new beef facilities complements the recent launch of a £75m investment in CAFRE campuses. Together these investments will ensure AFBI and CAFRE can deliver for the future of Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry.”
Welcoming the announcement, Martin McKendry, College Director at CAFRE said: “New beef facilities at AFBI and CAFRE are strategically important, allowing greater integration in the delivery of research, technology transfer and education. This project will help forge stronger links between AFBI and CAFRE. Planning for the development of the new facilities has already commenced. The building work will have a phased approach to minimise disruption to the delivery of our programmes. I look forward to seeing the impact of this work as each stage of the project is completed.”
Dr Elizabeth Magowan of AFBI also welcomed the funding saying: “The outcomes from the integration of research, technology transfer and education to collectively address the most pressing challenges within the local beef sector will provide a step change for Northern Ireland. These facilities are fundamental to achieving maximum impact from this integrated approach and for driving further improvements in sustainable beef farming.”
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) have welcomed the announcement which was outlined in the ministerial statement on Tuesday during the Northern Ireland (NI) Assembly.
Pat McKay, who was recently appointed as the new UFU beef and lamb chair said: “The UFU have been lobbying for new facilities at AFBI for over 10 years now and at long last, funding has finally been allocated to create modernised resources at both AFBI and CAFRE. NI farmers produce beef to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards, we have a fantastic reputation across the world and to ensure we remain on the global stage as world leading beef producers, we need to have appropriate research facilities to support the sector. To date, we were being left behind.
“The new beef facilities at AFBI and CAFRE will have substantial benefits for our relationship with retailers and new export customers, as we will be able to showcase why beef produced in NI is so sought after, in appropriate, efficient facilities. Not to mention when hosting visits with consumers and beef producers from other regions.
“We now ask DAERA, CAFRE and AFBI staff to work collaboratively to ensure we can progress with the next stage of developing the new beef facilities as quickly as possible.”