Welcome to the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) Publication Scheme.
Section 19 of the Freedom of Information Act places a legal duty on Public Authorities to adopt and maintain a scheme relating to the publication of information by any authority that has gained approval from the Information Commissioner, whose office was set up to ensure compliance with the requirements of the act.
Every public authority is required to adopt and maintain a publication scheme setting out the classes of information it holds, the manner in which it intends to publish the information, and whether or not a charge will be levied for the information. The Publication Scheme is a living document, which is modified and developed in accordance with public interest, topical issues and the day to day work of the Institute.
Our publication scheme is based on the Model Publication Scheme that has been drawn up by the Information Commissioner for all public sector organisations. You can access information through our website by following the links via classes of information set out below, or by using our publication search facility which contains all the documents released by AFBI.
You can also use the search box at the top of the website.
We are committed to greater openness and to the proactive dissemination of information. This goal of increased transparency will enable us to comply with the requirements set out in The Freedom of Information Act 2000 and The Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
The classes of information will not generally include:
- information the disclosure of which is prevented by law, or exempt under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations, or is otherwise properly considered to be protected from disclosure
- information in draft form
- information that is no longer readily available as it is contained in files that have been placed in archive storage, or is difficult to access for similar reasons
If you have searched the Publication Scheme and have not found the information you are looking for you can ask for information through the following legislation:
- Freedom of Information (FOI) Act- Applications for information must be in writing - this includes email.
- Environmental Information Request – Applications for information can be in writing or verbally by phone or in person.
In certain circumstances you may be required to pay a fee before the information can be provided.
When requesting information please include the following details:
- your name and address
- the information you would like to access
- the way you would like the information to be sent to you (for example as hard copy, via email, etc.)
You can submit an FOI request via e-mail by using the following e-mail address:
A leaflet is also available explaining how we process requests for information.
Our Privacy Notice in relation to requests for information can be read here
AFBI is a leading provider of scientific research and services to government, non-governmental and commercial organisations. AFBI was established on 1 April 2006 as a Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). It is responsible mainly for the provision of statutory and scientific programmes in the areas of agri-food, animal and plant health, fisheries and the environment, providing access to specialist expertise and providing facilities to Industry and Public Sector bodies for contracted scientific services (refer to AFBI's Public Task Statement). AFBI has a staff complement of approx. 650 people, with a budget of approximately £55million across its 7 specialised sites throughout Northern Ireland.
AFBI is based at seven sites across the province, with its Headquarters at Newforge Lane, Belfast. The AFBI sites are located at Newforge Lane, (Belfast), Crossnacreevy, Hillsborough, Stoney Road (Stormont), Loughgall, Bushmills and Omagh.
Who we are and what we do
AFBI is an internationally facing multidisciplinary scientific organisation, based at seven locations in Northern Ireland. In line with our vision of “Advancing the local and global agri-food sectors through scientific excellence”, the Institute has developed a reputation of being an influential, internationally recognised, centre for innovation in agri-food and biosciences providing high quality and locally relevant science to all of its customers. AFBI’s science is outcome driven and aimed at solving important practical problems for a wide range of local, national and international customers in the public and private sectors.
Our staff carry out world class scientific research, surveillance, and analytic and diagnostic testing for a wide range of customers in the fields of animal health and welfare, sustainable agricultural systems, plant science, food innovation and safety, environmental protection, fisheries and aquatic ecosystems, and agricultural and rural economics.
Our “2020 Strategy” includes plans for an ambitious programme of capital investment in AFBI’s infrastructure, including a new AFBI headquarters, improved facilities at AFBI Hillsborough and a new Veterinary Sciences Main Building, which will give us one of the most modern laboratory and ancillary estate infrastructures of any agri-food research institute in Europe.
As the Northern Ireland government’s main research and statutory testing provider in the areas of agri-food, fisheries and the environment, AFBI plays a major role in the Northern Ireland knowledge economy. AFBI’s scale, relationships with a wide range of international research organisations and close links with local industry mean that it is ideally placed to carry out research that is of both global and local impact.
The Institute has two science divisions, Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences and Veterinary Sciences Divisions, which are supported by the Finance and Corporate Affairs Division.
About the Veterinary Sciences Division
Veterinary Sciences Division (VSD) currently employs approximately 240 veterinary, scientific, technical and support staff across its four Branches (Bacteriology, Chemical and Immunodiagnostic Sciences, Disease Surveillance and Investigation, and Virology).
Major programmes of work within the Division are animal health and welfare, and food safety. VSD investigates diseases of farm animals, poultry and fish and provides a specialist animal disease diagnostic service to the agricultural industry. It carries out statutory work and provides an emergency response capability on behalf of government. It also conducts underpinning research and development (R&D) on animal diseases and food safety issues relevant to the local industry. This work is funded by DAERA, other government bodies and the private sector. More specifically, the Division supports government policy and industry by providing laboratory testing and scientific expertise in:
- Emergency responses and contingency planning for epizootic disease outbreaks and food-chain problems
- Targeted (active) surveillance for animal diseases, including local, national and EU disease control and eradication schemes
- Scanning (passive) surveillance for animal disease agents, including zoonotic infections
- Chemical and microbiological food surveillance, including veterinary drug residue testing
- Underpinning R&D in animal diseases and food safety
- Provision of specialist advice to government and industry
- Technology transfer to industry
About the Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences Division
The Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences Division (SAFSD) has approximately 300 staff and operates across six Branches: Agri- Environment; Grassland and Plant Science; Agriculture; Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems; Food Research and Agricultural and Food Economics. These Branches together provide a continuum of scientific expertise across the agri-food chain, from the growing environment, through to plant and animal production systems, aquatic ecosystems, food safety and quality and finally profitability of the agrifood sector. This integrated approach ensures that the Division is well placed to address the important challenges of sustainable intensification of food production both locally and globally. The work of SAFSD is driven by the ongoing needs of our wide range of customers. Whilst DAERA is the major customer, the Division also carries out work for other government departments and agencies such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in Ireland, DEFRA in the UK, as well as for bodies such as AgriSearch, the European Union, and a wide range of private customers from the agri-food industry. This funding, along with Grant-in-Aid from DAERA, supports a broad programme of research and development work and statutory testing in addition to the provision of specialist advice and technical services to government and industry.
The key functions of SAFSD are to:
- Undertake basic, strategic and applied multi- disciplinary research for DAERA and other government departments and agencies, industry and commercial organisations, and bodies representing the agri-food industry. Research areas include: Sustainable and welfare-sensitive livestock systems; Food and non food crops; Renewable energy systems for the agri-food sector and farming communities; Management and protection of natural land resources; Assessment and protection of fish stocks and the aquatic environment; and Competitiveness in the agri-food industry by improving quality, safety and process development.
- Provide evidence-based scientific advice to government policy makers, regulators and industry, on agriculture, food, fishing and environmental issues.
- Provide a wide range of statutory, regulatory and commercial analytical services such as certification and monitoring of pasture, horticultural and agricultural crops and the wider environment. This also includes maintaining specific scientific preparedness for emergency responses in these areas.
About the Finance and Corporate Affairs Division
The Finance and Corporate Affairs Division, which is based at AFBI headquarters but with staff deployed to each of AFBI’s larger sites, supports the Board, Chief Executive, AFBI senior management and the two scientific Divisions in securing and deploying the financial, personnel and physical resources of AFBI. It also assists them in ensuring that AFBI is an efficient, effective, sustainable and accountable organisation with high standards of governance. Functions within the division include corporate business planning and performance management, financial management, planning and control, and the management of procurement, human resources, estates, intellectual property, contracts, business continuity and contingency planning, health and safety, risk management, management information systems and IT support, media services and Board and Executive Management Team support. Specialist statistical analysis support is also provided to AFBI’s scientists. The division also has a major role in taking forward AFBI’s exciting programmes of estate development and change management.
AFBI Board and Executive Management Team
AFBI Board – details of the responsibilities of the AFBI Board and its members can be viewed here
Executive Management Team (EMT) - details of the EMT structure and members can be viewed here
Location and Contact details
Location and contact details – details of location and contact information for all 7 AFBI sites
Legislation and regulations relevant to AFBI
Parliament is responsible for approving new laws (legislation). The government introduces most plans for new laws, or changes to existing laws - but they can originate from an MP, Lord or even a member of the public or private group. Before they can become law, both the House of Commons and House of Lords must debate and vote on the proposals.
All legislation relevant to Northern Ireland can be found on the legislation.gov.uk website.
What we spend and how we spend it
AFBI’s Annual Reports and Statements of Accounts can be found at the following link
Pay and grading structure
AFBI adhere to the NICS pay and grading structure which can be viewed on the Department of Finance website https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk
AFBI subscribe to the NICS wide procurement directorate which can be viewed on the Department of Finance website
Contracts available and awarded can also be viewed by following the link above.
Internal Financial Regulations
Our priorities and how we are doing
How we make decisions
Our policies and procedures
Equality - you can view our Equality Scheme here
Policies - You can view the a number of AFBI Policies here, including Counter-Fraud, Whistle-blowing, Data Protection, Research Misconduct and Intellectual Property
Recruiting and employing staff working in AFBI
AFBI staff comply with NICS terms and conditions and as such AFBI complies with NICS HR policies and staff handbook.
Lists and Registers
Corporate Risk Register
Corporate Risk Register - AFBI has a Risk Management Strategy and associated Risk Registers subject to scrutiny by the Institute’s Internal Auditors. Risks are reviewed regularly at Divisional level and reported monthly on an exception basis to the Executive Management Team and subsequently the AFBI Board. The Corporate Risk Register is reviewed quarterly by the AFBI Risk Management and Business Planning Group (RMBPG), AFBI’s Audit and Risk Assurance Committee and the AFBI Board.
FOI Disclosure logs
In this section you will be able to find details of Freedom of Information (FOI) and Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) disclosures, made by the Institute, where the material is of wider public interest, demonstrating how the Institute has delivered its responsibilities under the Act.
Our Disclosure Logs outline the requests made and the information provided in response. It does not identify the requestor. Disclosures are posted on the website on an annual basis.
FOI Compliance Statistics
Following the ICO's FOI Code of Practice (published 4 July 2018), this section provides AFBI's compliance statistics to reflect our performance on handling requests for information under the FOI Act. This information is updated on a quarterly basis.
Registers of gifts and hospitality
Register of Interests
AFBI Board - registers can be viewed for individual members of the AFBI Board
The services we offer
Areas of Expertise - you can find out more about the areas of expertise as listed below and the services provided within AFBI including: Animal Health & Welfare; Sustainable Livestock; Grassland & Plant Science; Environmental Protection; Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems; Food Quality & Safety; Economics, along with links to published data within specific work areas
Commercial Services - you can view details of all commercial services provided by AFBI here, along with links to published data within specific work areas including: Research & Development; Diagnostic & Analytical; Specialist Advice; Specialist Facilities, along with links to published data within specific work areas
Newsletters – you can access AFBI’s “News and Views” here which is distributed monthly to industry stakeholders
- Freedom of Information - right to know leaflet
- Access to Information Leaflet for third parties
- AFBI Complaints procedure leaflet