Northern Ireland

Explore the work of FFCC Northern Ireland

Latest from Northern Ireland

NextGen-ReGen 2024

NextGen-ReGen 2024 is a trailblazing three-year leadership development programme designed to empower the next generation of regenerative farmers to build a new community of practice in Northern Ireland. With the support of local and international regenerative farming and leadership experts, 20 farmers aged between 25-35 will grow their understanding of practical regenerative farming and soils, gain business confidence, and learn how to develop a resilient and successful farm business.

It is facilitated by GrowIN and the Food Farming and Countryside Commission, and generously funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

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The Growing Innovation Network - GrowIN

FFCC has initiated the Growing Innovation Network (GrowIN) - 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 and Ireland.

The network encourages 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 Aurora Trust and delivered by the Food Farming and Countryside Commission, through a team of grassroots farmers in Northern Ireland.

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A Land Use Framework for Northern Ireland

The recent review of Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector recommended ‘a co-designed cross departmental land use strategy for Northern Ireland’.

Julie Robinson, one of the review team, commented “this wasn’t a difficult recommendation to make; the multiple pressures on NI’s small land area demand, as a minimum, some kind of overarching principles to ensure that government policy is joined up. The journey towards net zero, biomass for renewable energy, food production, rural economy, tree planting and peatland restoration, water quality, the biodiversity crisis - they can’t be tackled without an agreed land use strategy that has buy-in from across the piece.”

FFCC is contributing to building consensus on this potentially contentious issue by convening leaders, stakeholders and experts in charting a way forward.

Read about our recent roundtable discussion on land use in Northern Ireland

Finding the Lay of the Land

FFCC Northern Ireland'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.

Read report

Lay of the Land: what does a sustainable future look like?

“It’s not true that people want everything cheap. We pay plenty for phones and cars, don’t we? Food has been devalued by the business model and makes us view food differently.”

Co Fermanagh resident

Priority areas for FFCC Northern Ireland

The framework set out in Lay of the Land has determined the FFCC Northern Ireland's current priorities for action.

Building trust

across the system

by convening leadership

Growing a


learning network

Assembling citizens for

a food conversation

on what they really want

Building consensus on a

Land Use Framework

for Northern Ireland

More about FFCC Northern Ireland

Our context

Northern Ireland’s rural landscape of green fields and large areas of upland punctuated by loughs and criss-crossed by rivers hosts over 25,000 farms and around 23,500 species.

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.

Our advisory group

The work of FFCC Northern Ireland is influenced and guided by an advisory group of experts from across the system, including:

  • Ed Wright, Head of Sustainability, Dale Farm Ltd
  • Helen Keys, Entrepreneur in Residence at Queen’s University Belfast, farmer and co-founder of Source Grow
  • John Best, Farmer
  • Kate Clifford, Director of the Rural Community Network
  • Charlie Cole, Farmer
  • 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.

Meet the team

Patrick Casement OBE, Chair

Read bio and contact

John Woods, Director

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Will Frazer, GrowIN Project Manager

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Stories of hope and action

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.

Read more Field Guide for the Future stories

Find out more about agroecology: visit our briefing hub