AFBI has lost funding for research programmes on potato breeding, renewable energy, biomass and poultry production
August 19th: Responding to the announcement that the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will close the Crossnacreevy research centre operated by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Unite Officer with responsibility for the union’s membership in the agency, Joanne McWilliams, warned about the impact on the wider economy:
“While we are satisfied that no AFBI worker will be forced into redundancy as a result of this closure, we are deeply opposed to the short-sightedness of cutting funding to the AFBI.
“We understand that while some research programmes formerly conducted at Crossnacreevy will be moved to alternative locations, cutting-edge research into potato breeding, renewable energy, biomass and poultry production will be stopped due to DARD’s austerity cuts. Funding for marine and aquatic research will be cut with reductions in survey activities and an end to preventative activities such as seed mussel surveying.
“DARD’s austerity cuts will restrict the potential for productivity gains in the vitally important Agri-foods sector and undermine food safety and consumer confidence in locally-produced foods. They will impede the roll-out of renewable energy and biomass as alternative energy sources allowing Northern Ireland’s economy to transition to a more sustainable footing.
“The decision to cut funding for strategic and vital Agri-Foods research in order to satisfy harsh austerity budgets is wrong. At a time when the NI Executive stands united in the belief that they can afford to pay hundreds of millions of pounds to engage in a race-to-the-bottom for global tax haven status, this is plain inexcusable”, Ms McWilliams concluded.