Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
|Formed||June 1921 (as Ministry of Agriculture)|
|Preceding Department||Dublin Castle administration|
|Headquarters||Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SB|
|Employees||3,836 (September 2011)|
|Annual budget||£220.1 million (current) & £21.2 million (capital) for 2011–12|
|Minister responsible||Michelle O'Neill|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) (Irish: An Roinn Talmhaíochta agus Forbartha Tuaithe; Ulster-Scots: Männystrie o Fairms an Kintra Fordèrin) is a devolved Northern Irish government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department is the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
DARD's official vision is of a "thriving and sustainable rural community and environment". It has five stated objectives: to help the agri-food industry prepare for future market opportunities and economic challenges; to promote the economic and social well-being and self-reliance of the rural community; to enhance animal, fish and plant health and welfare; to help deliver improved sustainable environmental outcomes; and to manage its business and deliver services to customers in a cost-effective way.
DARD has responsibility for the following areas of policy:
- rural development
- agri-environmental policy
- sea fisheries
- flood risk management 
- animal health and welfare
- administration of Defra support schemes
- application of EU Common Agricultural Policy
- application of EU Rural Development Policy
DARD's main counterpart in the United Kingdom Government is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Its main counterpart in the Irish Government is the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
A Ministry of Agriculture was established at the foundation of Northern Ireland in June 1921, and was subsequently known as the Department of Agriculture under direct rule (introduced in March 1972). An agricultural ministry was also included in the Northern Ireland Executive briefly established in 1974.
Under direct rule, the Department of Agriculture was responsible for inland waterways and inland fisheries (now held by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.
Following a referendum on the Belfast Agreement on 23 May 1998 and the granting of royal assent to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 on 19 November 1998, a Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive were established by the United Kingdom Government under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Department of Agriculture was renamed as the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and granted a slightly reduced remit. DARD was therefore one of the six direct rule Northern Ireland departments that continued in existence after devolution in December 1999, following the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and The Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
A devolved minister took office on 2 December 1999. Devolution was suspended for four periods, during which the department came under the responsibility of direct rule ministers from the Northern Ireland Office:
- between 12 February 2000 and 30 May 2000;
- on 11 August 2001;
- on 22 September 2001;
- between 15 October 2002 and 8 May 2007.
Since 8 May 2007, devolution has operated without interruption.
Ministers of Agriculture and Rural Development
|Minister||Image||Party||Took office||Left office|
|Bríd Rodgers||SDLP||2 December 1999||11 February 2000|
|Bríd Rodgers||SDLP||30 May 2000||14 October 2002|
|Michelle Gildernew||Sinn Féin||8 May 2007||5 May 2011|
|Michelle O'Neill||Sinn Féin||5 May 2011||Incumbent|
Direct rule ministers
During the periods of suspension, the following ministers of the Northern Ireland Office were responsible for the department:
- Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development
- Rivers Agency
- Floods directive
- List of government ministers in Northern Ireland
- "Northern Ireland Quarterly Employment Survey Historical Data". Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Budget 2011–15" (PDF). Department of Finance and Personnel. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Depairtment o Agricultur an Laundart Oncum is also used by the North-South Ministerial Council.
- Northern Ireland Budget 2011–15, page 36
- http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/index/work-of-the-executive/ministers-and-their-departments.htm Northern Ireland Executive
- http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/about-dard/dard-responsibilities.htm Responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
- Rivers Agency
- Forest Service
- About Defra
- Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine: About us
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2000
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2000
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2001
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2001
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
- Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2002
- Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2007
- Office suspended for 24 hours on 11 August 2001 and 22 September 2001