An independent review into the future of the agri-food sector in NI is to be led by Sir Peter Kendall, the former president of the National Farmers’ Union.
The appointment was confirmed by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and Economy Minister Dianne Dodds last week.
Initially, a review was to be established to investigate the need for a capital grant scheme for food processors in NI, similar to what has been available in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
However, its remit has been widened and the new “Independent Strategic Review of the NI Agri-Food Sector” will also look at issues such as economic and environmental sustainability, access to migrant labour, market opportunities and regional branding.
Kendall is an arable and poultry farmer from Bedfordshire and is a former chair of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. His review team is made up of Dr Jonathan Birnie of NI-based Birnie Consultancy, Dr Clive Black from Shore Capital Markets, and agricultural law expert Julie Robinson.
Almost all funding which was available for the third tranche of the Tier 1 capital grant scheme has been allocated, a DAERA spokesperson has said.
By Wednesday evening, 2,902 letters of offer had been sent to successful applicants and offers worth £14.6m had been accepted by farmers.
The third tranche of Tier 1 had a £15m budget and over 3,800 applications were submitted for the grant scheme last December. It means over three-quarters of applicants were successful in the latest tranche.
The DAERA spokesperson also confirmed that any applicants who received a letter of offer had a minimum score of 73 points under the points-based selection criteria.
The Tier 1 scheme provides grant funding for equipment costing between £5,000 and £30,000. In the first two tranches of the scheme, £14.4m was paid out to over 3,000 farmers.
A survey has found that 98% of consumers in NI buy dairy products, representing the highest level of dairy consumption in the UK.
The lowest level of dairy consumption is in London, where 86% of consumers buy dairy products. Overall, 94% of UK adults said they purchased dairy products for themselves or others, although this figure declined to 78% in 18-24-year-olds.
The YouGov survey of 2,161 adults, which was conducted for dairy co-op First Milk, found that 29% of respondents take the overall impact on the environment into consideration when buying food.
The results show that 33% of UK adults think the production of dairy foods significantly contributes to climate change, and 46% of respondents feel the same about meat consumption. However, only 37% of UK adults realise that food waste significantly contributes to climate change.