New industry advisory panel for agri-food sector

Membership of the new Industry Advisory Panel, (IAP), established to support the agri-food sector, has been confirmed.

The initiative is being taken forward by Minister of Enterprise Trade and Investment Arlene Foster, through Invest Northern Ireland and in association with Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew.

This follows the plans announced earlier this year by both departments to put in place new structures to help support development of the agri-food industry. Integral to this was the establishment of a new Industry Advisory Panel (IAP), which would give industry a key role in advising government directly on public policy and the delivery of development support for the food sector.

Welcoming this progress, Arlene Foster said: “Food manufacturing is the largest manufacturing sector in the Northern Ireland economy with sales of over £2.5billion and nearly 19,000 jobs. It is also one of our biggest exporting sectors. My department, through Invest NI, acknowledges the key role that the industry has in advising and working in partnership with government to continue the progress already made in developing the sector. I look forward to continuing this work with other relevant departments in these new arrangements.”

Minister Gildernew said: “The Industry Advisory Panel will have a vital contribution to make in how we work together, not just in government, but with the industry to support that sector’s development. The agri-food industry is significant to our economy and I believe that we will be better placed to provide the support it needs by working in a more joined-up way and with a direct link to key industry representatives, who have in-depth knowledge of the industry’s needs. Membership nominations were industry volunteered and this augers well for an active IAP in helping to shape future policy.”