FFCC has initiated the Growing Innovation Network - a network of farmers in Northern Ireland on a mission to support peer-to-peer learning and exchange between farmers across Northern Ireland – with the ambition to share learning with other places in the UK.
The network will encourage collaboration, sharing experience, ideas, and knowledge across the wider industry and society on regenerative farming practices and first steps along the journey. The project is funded by the Ashden Trust and delivered by the Food Farming and Countryside Commission, through a team of grassroots farmers in Northern Ireland.
In March, Northern Ireland's Food, Farming and Land Convention saw farmers, producers and policymakers gather to explore how food and farming can play a pivotal role in building a more resilient future. We were delighted to host the event in partnership with the Nature Friendly Farming Network, Belfast Food Network, RSPB Northern Ireland, Taste the Greatness and Northern Ireland Environment Link.
Catch up with the conversation at #FFLC22 - or watch the discussions again below.
FFCC Northern Ireland inquiry’s first report Lay of the Land gathered evidence of citizens’ views: farmers, shoppers, community groups, environmentalists, chefs, traders, young and old.
This evidence outlined the need for a transformation in the food and farming system to respond to the climate emergency, restore biodiversity, improve health and wellbeing and develop Northern Ireland's distinctive pattern of farming to support and revitalise rural communities. Lay of the Land offered a series of outcomes as a framework for a transition to a sustainable future.
The framework set out in Lay of the Land has determined the inquiry's current priorities for action.
The vast majority of Northern Ireland's farmland is devoted to grazing for beef, sheep and dairy production which helps support a strong food processing industry. Together farming and food processing are responsible for 5% of Northern Ireland employment.
Almost all powers related to food, farming and the countryside are devolved to the Assembly at Stormont although, unlike the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland is subject to the rules of the EU Single Market. International trade policy, however, is set by the UK Government which leaves Northern Ireland in a rather uncertain place sharing a land border with the EU. Cross border movements are stitched into the fabric of our economy and many people’s daily lives. The future holds both threats and opportunities for farming, food and the environment.
The work of FFCC Northern Ireland is influenced and guided by an advisory group of experts from across the system, including John Best, Farmer, Kate Clifford, Director of the Rural Community Network, Charlie Cole, Farmer, Jennifer Fulton, Chief Executive of Ulster Wildlife, Joe McDonald, Senior Corporate Affairs Manager at Asda NI, Gary McFarlane, Director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health NI, John Martin, Coordinator of Nature Matters, Dr Liz Mitchell, Retired Consultant in Public Health, Diane Ruddock, External Affairs Manager of The National Trust, Northern Ireland, Professor Nigel Scollan, Director of the Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast and Michele Shirlow MBE, Chief Executive of Food NI.
Across Northern Ireland, citizens are taking action. Read stories about people like farmers John and Simon Best, pictured, to find out how they are making change, and what government and business can do to support them.