AFBI was created in 2006, following an amalgamation of DARD Science Service and the Agricultural Research Institute of NI. Set up as a non-departmental public body of DARD (now DAERA), the first 10 years were a period of much change for AFBI, with a number of challenges to overcome along the way. Not least budget pressures, with significant reductions to grant-in-aid (direct funding) coming from DAERA. This was reflected in a reduction in staff levels from over 800 in 2006 to around 630 at present.

Over that 10-year period, AFBI has also moved on to its fourth chief executive. New into the top job at AFBI is Dr Sinclair Mayne, someone who has spent most of his working life involved in local agricultural research, and who comes to the post with a determination to put the organisation back on a firm footing.