16th APRIL 2020 - Page 43

JANUARY 23 2020
Arable, beef and sheep sectors are looking forward
HE new year has started
well with local government
now back in situ, farm
payments guaranteed at
least in some form for the
lifetime of this Parliament, and
some clarity on Brexit. We leave
the EU next week and have until
year-end to have a UK-EU trade
agreement in place.
The new year also brought the
opportunity to attend ‘outlook’
events where experts give their
views on the year ahead.
The Ulster Arable Conference is
a well-attended event which belies
this relatively small but important
farming sector. It’s refreshing to
see speakers focus on technical
farming and particularly the
importance of soil health.
Too often grass-based farmers
focus on issues above the ground
but a conference speaker noted
that soil supports 95 per cent of all
food production and that by 2060
Cormac McKervey
Senior Agriculture
Manager, Ulster
soil will be needed to support as
much food as we have consumed
in the past 500 years. Soil health is
vital to productive farming and the
wider environment.
Northern Ireland grain farmers
realise they are price takers
with prices set globally by huge
multinational grain traders. It
can be a difcult place to be,
particularly after a wet autumn
with little winter crop sown and
ongoing restrictions on the use of
However, their resilience and
focus on the issues they can
control is commendable. They
produce top quality grain, fully
traceable, and work closely with
AFBI and Cafre in research projects
and in technology transfer. It’s
a good example of collaboration
which should be used by other
The Ulster Grassland Society
(UGS) audience included many
younger farmers and the society
offered a placement for a member
to travel abroad and work on an
arable unit. A great initiative.
Brexit will bring further
challenges, particularly if there are
zero tariffs on imports and WTO
tariffs on exports, but there are
potentially opportunities too if the
UK opts to have more home-grown
feed and ensures that any imported
feed is produced to at least the
same standard as UK produced
The NI Institute of Agricultural
Science also held an outlook event
for the beef and sheep sectors. Two
well informed experts helped inject
some much-needed condence,
particularly regarding beef which
had a terrible 2019.
Lower beef numbers through to
Autumn 2020 should help prices
with the kill numbers down for
both prime beef and cows. While
beef consumption is down in the
UK and across the EU, it’s clear the
global demand for beef continues
to rise. The demand for meat
protein has risen sharply following
the destruction of China’s pig herd
by African Swine Flu. Sheep prices
have held up well throughout and
generally supply and demand are
Both sectors are vulnerable to
Brexit though. The UK is a net
exporter of sheep meat and any
WTO tariffs would likely make the
meat too expensive to trade. Much
depends on the agreement drawn
up between the EU and UK over the
next 11 months.
The sustainability of the beef
sector is also dependant on the
outcome of Brexit – not just the
UK-EU trade agreement but any
UK-USA trade deal will certainly
include US beef access to the UK
Despite DEFRA Minister Villiers
stating that the UK won’t allow
imports that undermine our
production standards that doesn’t
mean that hormone treated US beef
can’t enter the UK.
We likely have less to fear from
a UK-EU trade deal than we have
from a UK-USA deal.
There remains much uncertainty
but it’s good to have ‘outlook’
sessions where information is
presented and decisions can be
taken on the best available advice.
Belfast’s biggest employers
shape new ‘fairer city’ charter
AJOR employers from
across Belfast have
met to discuss the
development of a new
city charter which
aims to create a stronger and
fairer city for everyone.
The proposed new Inclusive
Growth City Charter for
Belfast will directly inuence
how employers use their
employment, procurement
and service delivery powers
to support inclusive growth
– economic growth that
benets all citizens and all
At the event, hosted by
Belfast City Council in
partnership with Allstate NI,
some of the city’s biggest
employers heard from
speakers from Bristol and
Preston about the enormous
benets that their employers
and citizens have experienced
by creating a more inclusive
Local delegates also
discussed what commitments
should be included in a Belfast
charter, and how best to
ensure that employers pledge
their support.
Alderman Brian Kingston,
Chair of Belfast City Council’s
Strategic Policy and Resources
Committee, said: “In 2017
community planning partners
from a broad range of sectors
agreed a shared vision for
Belfast in 2035 in the Belfast
Agenda. It included a collective
commitment that no one will
be left behind as the city
“Actions to ensure this
commitment is met by Belfast
City Council as a corporate
body and civic leader were
identied in the draft Inclusive
Strategy for Belfast, published
in November 2019.
“One of our key commitments
within the strategy is to
encourage other organisations
to pledge their support to
inclusive growth principles by
signing up to a new Inclusive
Growth Charter.”
Mr Kingston said the event
was a signicant milestone in
journey to fullling the charter:
“We are acutely aware that we
can only progress an inclusive
growth agenda by working
with employers across the
city towards a common vision
that ensures that no-one is left
“I would therefore like to
thank those who contributed
and encourage other
employers to contact us and
help create a truly inclusive
n To download Belfast
City Council’s draft Inclusive
Growth Strategy and give
feedback on the public
consultation which closes
tomorrow (January 24), visit
ABOVE: Alderman Brian Kingston, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and
Resources Committee, John Healy, Managing Director at Allstate Northern Ireland,
Derek Whyte, former Deputy Chief Executive at Preston City Council, Suzanne Wyle,
Chief Executive of Belfast City Council, and Edward Rowberry, Chief Executive of
Bristol and Bath Regional Capital CIC.
Action Renewables upskills on project management with SERC
RIGHT: Ten Action
Renewables staff
successfully completed
CMI Level 3 award in
Project Management
delivered in house by
South Eastern Regional
College. Front, SERC’s
Philip Martin and
Martin Mulholland with
Action Renewables’
team members Darren
McMahon, Finbar
Lunney, Dearbhla
Boyle, Alana Mellon,
Sarah McLarnin and
Bernadette Convery.
Back, Nathan McBride,
James McKay and Shane
EADING provider of
renewable energy
expertise Action
Renewables has successfully
upskilled its team with the
help of South Eastern Regional
College (SERC).
The company sought
to upskill a number of its
employees by extending their
skills and knowledge to take on
and embrace further project
management disciplines.
Working in partnership
with SERC allowed them to
do just that, with the team
completing the Chartered
Management Institute (CMI)
Level 3 qualication in Project
Philip Martin, Business
Development Manager, SERC,
said: “Understanding the
needs of the business and the
location of their staff, SERC
was able to deliver the training
inhouse at Action Renewables
which enabled more
employees to participate and
helped minimise disruption to
the businesses work ow.
He added: “The training
ran successfully with all 10
participants receiving their
Level 3 qualication in an
impressive timescale of just
four weeks.
“Now all project managers
have an increased knowledge
and developed a skill set which
they can put into practice,
helping continue successful
delivery of Action Renewables’
n Apply now for courses
commencing September
2020. Visit www.serc.ac.uk
to nd out how you could be


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