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News > Minister Poots announces the appointment of a new Chairperson and a new member on the CAFRE College Advisory Group


Minister Poots announces the appointment of a new Chairperson and a new member on the CAFRE College Advisory Group

June 29, 2021

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots today welcomed the appointment of Maynard Mawhinney as Chairperson, and Harold Johnston as Member representing the Dairying Sector, on the CAFRE College Advisory Group (CAFRE CAG).

The role of the CAG is to provide advice at a strategic and operational level to the management team of CAFRE.  The group was established in January 2007 and reports to the College Director, Martin McKendry.  In carrying out its work, the group takes full account of Departmental policies and strategies.

Both Mr Mawhinney and Mr Johnston have been appointed by the Department for an initial period of three years from July 1, 2021.  Maynard Mawhinney replaces outgoing Chairperson, Dr Mike Johnston, while Harold Johnston replaces former member Mark Beattie.

Both Mr Mawhinney and Mr Johnston are well-known and respected throughout the Agri-Food industry.

Minister Poots said:

I welcome the appointments of Mr Mawhinney and Mr Johnston.  The Advisory Group plays an important role in helping CAFRE deliver excellent services to the farming and Agri-Food sectors and I’m sure that the wealth of experience brought by the new Chair and Dairying member will enable CAFRE to continue to be recognised as a world leader in Agri-Food education provision.

Minister Poots wished them well in these important roles and thanked the outgoing Chair and Member for their leadership of, and input to, the CAFRE CAG.

Notes to editors

  1. Photograph caption – Left to Right, Maynard Mawhinney (the new CAFRE College Advisory Group Chair), Martin McKendry (CAFRE Director), and Harold Johnston (the new CAFRE College Advisory Group member representing the Dairying sector).
  2. The College Advisory Group makes recommendations regarding the development of the College Strategic Business Plan to meet the needs of industry, participants and the community in line with the DAERA Vision and Strategic Goals and its policies on education and technology transfer; Monitors the programmes delivered by the College and makes recommendations regarding their relevance to the DAERA Strategic Goals and their effectiveness in meeting the needs of industry, participants and the community; Monitors the delivery of the College Strategic Business Plan, including achievement of physical and financial targets, and value for money and makes recommendations on how performance could be improved; Advises the College on the marketing and promotion of programmes to secure optimum industry and community involvement in the development, delivery and uptake of programmes.
  3. The new Chair, Mr Maynard Mawhinney, is an experienced Board Member with a demonstrated history of working in the Agri-Food industry.  With an MA in Marketing from Ulster University, and a Certificate of the Market Research Society from De Montfort University, he has considerable experience in marketing Agri-Food businesses.  He was Director of Food, Drink and Commercial Tourism at InvestNI from 2003 – 2013, with considerable experience of working with strategic partners to develop Agri-Food strategies, including Going for growth in 2013 and has acted as a Consultant to BDO, where he led on the formulation of their Agri-Food strategy.  He was a non-executive director and marketing advisor to food company Around Noon Ltd., where he oversaw the considerable growth of the company in size and profit, including through the acquisition of a London-based brand.  He has also acted as a Business Consultant to Simplyfruit (Ireland) Ltd.
  4. In terms of public service, Mr Mawhinney served as a Board Member to the Health & Safety Executive (NI), an Independent Interview Board Assessor for the Commissioner for Public Appointments NI and a Business Coach through Mentoring Concave.  Mr Mawhinney is the current Chair of the Finance and Performance Committee of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.  He has held this role since 2016, guiding the committee through challenges including a large capital programme and the outbreak Covid-19 whilst ensuring value for public monies.  He reports directly to the wider Trust Board and the Department of Health.  Mr Mawhinney is also a current member of the CAFRE College Advisory Group that he will now Chair, where he has served two terms.  He is thus fully cognisant of the remit, goals and challenges facing the Group and he looks forward to leading them in the coming years.
  5. Mr Mawhinney does not have any affiliation with, nor is he involved in political activity with, any political party.
  6. Mr Harold Johnston will represent the Dairying Sector.  Mr Johnston has considerable experience of the Dairy farming sector, having been a dairy farmer for his entire working life, since 1985.  His farm has had success in several competitions, most notably First place in the 2016 UFU Northern Ireland silage competition and also First place in the 2020 Ulster Grassland Society “Grassland Farmer of the year” competition.
  7. Mr Johnston has a long career of service to the farming community.  He has been a Board member of Dale Farm Co-Op since 2011, a position which has given him insight into the processor side of the industry.  He is also currently President-Elect of the Ulster Grassland Society, is involved with Agri-search as a Grasscheck monitor farmer and has been accepted onto the Beacon Farm Network scheme.  He is a member of South Antrim Dairy Group.  He was Co. Antrim chairman of the Ulster Farmers Union in 2005.
  8. Mr Johnston does not have any affiliation with, nor is he involved in political activity with, any political party.
  9. These appointments were made in accordance with the Departments statutory equality duties under section 75.  Also, in line with the Department’s published commitments in its Audit of Inequalities, DAERA took all necessary steps to address under-representation on its CAFRE College Advisory Group.
  10. The period of appointment is initially for three years.  A payment is made for each meeting attended and expenses are available for travelling costs and childcare costs..