Armagh City, Ban-bridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s vis-
ion for the local agri industry has been set out at the launch of its pioneering Agriculture Strategy.
The first of its kind anywhere in Northern Ireland, the strategic report delves into the local agri-food industry – from field to fork – to provide key proposals for council to best support the sector and help drive its long-term viability.
Held at Lurgan’s historic Gracehall, the high profile launch event saw guests from across the diverse agri sector and featured keynote speeches from former NFU President Sir Peter Kendall and Countryfile’s Adam Henson.
Exploring the industry and
engaging with council depart-ments, key stakeholders, farm-ers and borough businesses, the just-launched strategy out-
lines a practical and ach-ievable implementation plan
– comprised of 10 recom-mendations – for council to support and collaborate on to spark a positive impact within the sector.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Glenn Barr com-
mented: “Leading in horti-culture, cattle, sheep and cereal farming enterprises, our borough is home to over 3,400 registered farms that brings around £376 million into the local economy and employs 7,495 local people.
“These facts are not lost on council, as we understand the
vital importance and contrib-ution local agribusinesses make to our borough’s community life and economic fortunes.
“Focused on the benefits of collaboration, council is committed to delivering the strategy’s recommendations, by
working alongside key stake-holders, complementing and promoting the sector’s offering plus addressing the needs of this sector to enable it to reach its true potential.”
The strategy’s 10 recom-mendations are: expand and evolve the food heartland; develop a method of comm-unicating regularly and clearly with all agriculture and agri-businesses in the borough; develop a plan to facilitate skills development in agriculture and agribusinesses; appoint ‘agriculture champions’ for the borough; develop an ‘agriculture centre’ for advice, training, demonstrations, and research; facilitate structural upgrading; ABC rural strategy; further studies in sectors related to the agriculture industry; agri-food development; and promote the health and wellbeing of farmers and rural dwellers.
The launch event also brought together industry experts for a panel discussion on the future of agriculture.
Compered by local business editor and part-time farmer David Elliott, the lively session heard insights and analysis from Professor John Gilliland OBE (Director of Agriculture & Sustainability, Devenish), Dr Elizabeth Magowan (Director of Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences Division), Simon Best (Acton House Farm), Dr Jonathan Birnie, (Director of Birnie Consultancy Ltd) and Olga Murtagh (ABC Council Strategic Director).
With addresses from Roger
Wilson, ABC Council Chief Executive, and Birnie Con-sultancy’s Dr Jonathan Birnie, the event saw closing remarks from Chair of council’s Economic Development and Regeneration Committee Declan McAlinden.
n You can access the full ABC Council Agriculture Strat-
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