Industry must address challenges

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Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill will tell the newly formed Supply Chain Forum that the significant challenges the industry faces must be met with solutions from within the sector.

The Minister has tasked the Agri-food Strategy Board (AFSB) with creating the Forum which will host its first event at CAFRE’s Loughry campus on Wednesday 14 October 2015.

Minister O’Neill said: “The current challenges in our agri-food industry bring into focus our local supply chain structure which has become fragmented, and witnessed profits being slashed. I want everyone to get fair rewards for their hard work or we will see job losses and long-term damage to the sector.

“My goal for the forum is to encourage the industry to work together in addressing these significant challenges facing the primary production sector. By bringing together representatives from across the agri-food sector I hope they will explore how best to meet the current and future challenges affecting them.

“I anticipate that the Forum will open up clear and strong communication channels across the supply chain so that all parts of the industry can position themselves to meet the needs of the customer.

“I firmly believe that it is only by addressing the needs of the marketplace that we can secure the long-term sustainability of the agri-food sector. I would encourage all those invited to attend and fully contribute. I look forward to working with the industry, north and south, to achieve our long-term goals for the sector.”

Delegates at next week’s initial meeting will discuss a number of issues including current market outlook, sectoral challenges and opportunities and solutions.

AFSB Chair Tony O’Neill said: “We plan for the forum to hold a series of themed cross-sectoral meetings to outline the roles and responsibilities of each part of the chain to deliver the right products to the marketplace.

“Our vision for the industry is to grow a sustainable, profitable and integrated agri-food supply chain, which is focused on delivering what the customer wants and we continue to deliver first rate products.”

Minister O’Neill will also host a third meeting with senior representatives from across the dairy sector including the UFU, dairy processors and banks, prior to the Forum. This follow-up meeting is expected to discuss the recent aid package announced by the EU Commission and other developments.