Northern Ireland has moved a step closer to getting its own food agency as proposals for the structure and funding of a Bord Bia-style body were sent out this week for consultation.
A report from an industry working group set up to consider the remit and function of such a body said the industry needed a dedicated organisation. This would help it become more focused and effective by co-ordinating supply chain development and marketing activities for food and drink from Northern Ireland.
The agency, Agri-Food Northern Ireland, should be headed by a senior industry figure and supported by a 15-strong management board.
A letter to stakeholders this week from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development asked whether there was scope for rationalisation of some existing groups supporting the industry, and whether these should sit next to, or be subsumed by, any new umbrella food agency.
Food and drink marketing in Northern Ireland was carried out in a fragmented fashion and "lacked impact," the report said.

Moreover, the organisations concerned were "limited in their aims" and lacked the scale and resources to be truly effective.
When it came to supply chain activities, there was "little evidence of partnership and collaboration between the various support organisations or stakeholders in the supply chain".
The food agency would set up task forces to research and propose solutions to tackle specific issues within strict timnetables, said the report.
An executive support team would provide secretariat services for the management board and facilitate the work of the task forces.
All this would cost £450,000 a year, comprising £250,000 core funding from the government and £200,000 from other sources for project work.
Stakeholders have been given three months to comment on the proposals.

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