Sir Peter Kendell to lead review into NI's farming future

Sir Peter Kendall (middle) will lead the review looking at the future development of the entire NI agri-food sector
Sir Peter Kendall (middle) will lead the review looking at the future development of the entire NI agri-food sector

An independent strategic review into the future of the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland has been announced by former NFU president Sir Peter Kendall.

The six month review will consider the challenges facing food processing and farming, as well as making recommendations on how to take advantage of new opportunities.

It comes as the sector faces new post-Brexit trading arrangements, the impact of Covid-19 and the effects of climate change.

Agri-food is a key economic asset to Northern Ireland, accounting for 16% of the entire local economy.

It employs some 100,000 people, making it the region's largest manufacturing industry and one that has continued to grow even as other sectors have contracted.

The Independent Strategic Review of the NI Agri-Food Sector (ISRAF) will be led by former president of the NFU and AHDB, Sir Peter Kendall.

Sir Peter received a Knighthood for his services to the agricultural industry in England and Wales in the Queen’s 2015 New Year’s Honours.

He said: “As a farmer, I’m more excited about the future than I have been at any time in my career in the food industry.

"Leading a project that looks at how Northern Ireland agri-food makes the most of its unique position is a real privilege.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from all parts of the supply chain so that we can come up with a shared, evidence-based vision that is ambitious but doable if we all play our part.

"There’s no denying that the climate change challenges are massive but they also give NI agri-food a chance to set itself apart as a sector."

The team will look at how the industry can improve productivity, market opportunities, regional branding and the development of an independent UK Trade policy.

NI's farming minister Edwin Poots said farmers must unlock the new opportunities ahead to 'build a thriving, more sustainable, resilient and profitable agri-food sector'.

“ISRAF will consider the future development of the entire NI agri-food sector, including both farm producers and food processors.

"The review will consider the strategic challenges and opportunities that the sector now faces from Covid, consumers trends and new trading arrangements, as well as the development of an independent UK trade policy.

"It will make recommendations for both industry and government."