Agri-food business 'could create 15,000 new jobs'
Up to 15,000 new jobs can be created in the agri-food business, according to proposals in a manifesto to be launched later.
The Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association document, published ahead of next year's Assembly elections, outlines plans to develop the sector.
The manifesto claimed the sector "turned over £3.2bn in the last year".
It said the business employed 20,000 people and supported 72,000 more in farming and support services.
NIFDA Executive Director Michael Bell said the plans to rapidly grow the sector were "serious and realistic".
Mr Bell said the group "would now be taking its lobbying campaign out across Northern Ireland".
"We will now begin an exercise in meeting as many MLAs as possible as we believe that we can create jobs in every town, village and city in Northern Ireland," he said.
"Action is required now, standing still is not an option.
"Our nearest competitors in the Irish Republic and Scotland have already committed significant resources into the growth of their agri-food sectors.
"Recent developments in the Irish economy will clearly result in added momentum in the drive to achieve growth. Their success will only threaten our future.