O'Neill hails £1Billion 'Going For Growth' success
Sinn Féin's Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has welcomed the publication of the 'Going for Growth' progress report which measures achievements made to date in developing the agri-food industry to meet the ambitious targets which have been set for 2020.
The 'Going for Growth' strategy was launched by Minister O'Neill in 2013 and focuses on creating new job opportunities, increasing sales and accessing new markets. The latest report points to an estimated £1billion increase in turnover during the last 4 years.
Speaking after publication of the report by the Agri-Food Strategy Board, Ms O'Neill said,
"Despite very challenging global market conditions and continued pressures facing our primary producers, this progress report points to significant progress being made on securing access to 49 new export markets, increasing sales, creating 2500 new jobs, improving animal health, preparation towards establishing the new Strategic Marketing Body and the £250m Farm Business Improvement Scheme. Meeting the agreed targets provide the foundation stones to building the integrated, sustainable and profitable industry which we have a vision to create across this island.
"I'm greatly encouraged at the success of the Young Farmers level 2 qualification which has saw 3000 young farmers avail of the highly regarded CAFRE services to improve their farming efficiency, learn to benchmark, manage cash flow, develop business plans and experience the vast range of online services now available from DARD. A further 3000 farmers have enrolled on the new Business Development Groups, representing all sectors. The message couldn't be clearer that our farmers see a bright and long-term positive future ahead for the industry.
"The Agri-Food Strategy Board should be commended for their efforts and diligence in ensuring that these targets are being met. The further 15% increase in CAFRE course uptake, obtaining Officially Brucellsis Free (OBF) status, the rolling out of compulsory BVD testing, progressing BSE negligible risk status and the establishment of the Supply Chain Forum is further sign of the progress being made to improving the reputable seal of our produce and breathing greater confidence into our local industry."