27th August 2020 - Page 4

NOVEMBER 23 2017
HE last few days of colder
conditions have signalled
winter has arrived and it is
only a few weeks until the shortest
day. Those who have still crops of
potatoes or straw in the fields are
finding it difficult to complete the
harvest. On our own farm nearly
all the stock are now housed with
only a few remaining outdoors. We
brought in the dairy herd, firstly by
night and then full-time earlier than
usual due to the very wet ground
conditions over the last number of
I noticed a report in the farming
press that compound sales had
increased by 20 per cent over the
last few months. This is proof if any
was needed that many stock have
had to be housed early this year
which in turn increases the amount
of feed needed and adds greatly to
the cost of production. This will
Impressed with the clarity and vision of Lord Curry
farm view
on what might happen in
different scenarios as we
face the uncertainties of
I was impressed by his
vision regarding the future
choices that farmers and
the food processors will
be faced with and his
ability to explain his thoughts in
simple layman’s terms. I have heard
many inspirational speakers at this
event over the years so I hope the
organisers will continue to make it
happen on an annual basis.
I have attended quite a number of
events and celebrations over the
last couple of months. Firstly, it
was a great honour to be present
when Chris, our hard working and
by John Rankin
mean in spite of much improved
returns for both milk and beef,
profit margins will not be as good
as they might have been.
Last Thursday I was pleased
to attend the revived and
reconstituted “Scott Robertson
Memorial Lecture” held at Queen’s
University. Lord Curry was
the guest speaker and after he
reviewed the last 15 years since
the Curry report, he gave his views
diligent farm manager, won the
Dairy Farmer of the Year held this
year at the La Mon Hotel.
I was back again at the same
venue a few weeks later helping
the LMC celebrate 25 years of farm
quality assurance. On that occasion
Dr Pat Wall gave another inspiring
address and like Lord Curry had
many words of wisdom to impart.
It is a pity we still do not have a
devolved government in place to
act on some of their vision and
help us secure a better future
for our Agri-Food sector. Future
generations will not look kindly
on us if we miss opportunities
to influence the outcome at this
crucial period in our history.
Finally, I attended a lunch in
London where Charles Wilson, the
CEO of ‘Bookers’, was the speaker
on the day when its merger with
Tesco was given the go-ahead. He
made it clear that they are anxious
to do business with British farmers
as traceability and quality are
watch words in the grocery trade.
The power in the market of these
enormous buyers is quite scary and
we as producers need to be aware
of what their vision is for the future
as we approach the uncertainties of
Brexit over the next few years.
I think I need to take a break
from all these dinners and get my
waistline back into shape for the
indulgences of Christmas.
o John Rankin is a former
President of Ulster Farmers’ Union.
Hundreds of Balmoral: Day out at calf fair Potato harvest ‘one of
worst in living memory’
sheep stolen
RAZEN sheep rustlers are
thought to be responsible for
the theft of several hundred
sheep from farmland in the
Ballyward area of County Down.
Police have made an appeal for
information following a report that
a considerable number of sheep
had been stolen earlier this month.
Inspector Leslie Badger said: “At
this stage, it is thought several
hundred sheep were taken
from the Splitbog Road. The
incident was reported to Police
on November 6, but it is thought
the theft may have happened
sometime within the previous
“If you can help us with our
enquiries please call the 101
number, quoting reference number
303 of 6.11.17. Alternatively
information about crime can
be passed via the independent
Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555
ABOVE: Mark, Aaron and Tanya Dooher, from Strabane, enjoying a day out at the
pedigree calf fair.
Picture: Cliff Donaldson
OTATO growers in Northern
Ireland are experiencing
one of the worst harvests
in living memory, the Ulster
Farmers’ Union has warned.
It says potatoes are rotting
in the ground, harvests are
being abandoned in the hope of
better weather in the new year
and some are even reporting
potatoes already in storage
showing signs of rot.
“The long stretch of wet
weather has meant that fields
have been virtually inaccessible
until recently. Some growers
have only been able to get into
their fields for the first time
this month,” said UFU potato
chairman Robert Sibbett.
“Potatoes are rotting in the field
because it’s so wet. I’m normally
finished harvesting the potatoes
by the time the clocks change. I
don’t remember it being this bad
since the wet weather in 1985.
It’s having a knock-on effect on
everything else,” he added.
In some cases, the situation is
so bad growers have abandoned
harvest attempts until the New
Year due to the poor ground
conditions. There are also
reports that small amounts of
rot are being found in harvested
potatoes in storage.
Mr Sibbett continued: “These
unfavourable conditions affect
the quantity of marketable
produce coming out of the
ground. It is proving to be
another financially testing
“Growers are doing their best
to adjust to the poor weather
and the challenges it brings to
harvesting their crops. Growers
should continue to market their
crops strongly and hope that
these efforts are given due merit
from buyers, processors and
Farmers at centre of FQAS success, MLA Reaping the benefits of
ARMERS are at the centre
of the success of the Farm
Quality Assurance Scheme
and the Province’s beef and
lamb industry. Speaking after
attending an event hosted by the
Livestock & Meat Commission
(LMC) to celebrate 25 years of
the FQAS along with his party
colleague Caoimhe Archibald,
Sinn Fein MLA Declan McAleer
said we must “jealously guard”
its global reputation.
He said: “Beef and lamb
produced in the north has a
global reputation for taste and
traceability and is produced by
farmers who adopt the highest
standards of animal welfare and
environmental protection.
“The Farm Quality Assurance
Scheme (FQAS) was one of the
first such schemes in the world
and has played a significant part
in creating a global platform for
our local beef and lamb. The
FQAS has increased consumer
confidence, people know
that they are getting a highly
nutritious, healthy and quality
assured food. A huge credit
must also go to the LMC who
manage and operate the FQAS
on behalf of the industry. This
is also a significant milestone
year for the LMC who celebrate
50 years at the heart of the agrifood industry. This is something
which we must jealously guard
as we deal with the
uncertainties of Brexit
and the other challenges
facing the industry.”
farmer-funded research
From page one
standards this is excellent
value for money.
“But AgriSearch’s 20th
anniversary is less about
looking back than about
looking to the future and
deciding how AgriSearch
can best serve the needs of
ruminant livestock farmers.
We recognise that these
are rapidly changing times
for the agri-food sector.
Many new challenges and
opportunities for the entire
food supply chain will
He continued: “AgriSearch
has produced a publication
to mark its anniversary
asking experts in the
agri-food sector to set out
what 20 years of co-funded
research has achieved and
how our levy payers can rise
to the challenge of rapidly
changing times.
“The “Making a Difference
for Generations” booklet
covers a wide variety of
topics from maximising
output from forage to
environmental sustainability,
and from volatility and big
data to the future of food.
“AgriSearch has
commissioned this
publication to inform farmers
and the wider industry
about the challenges and
opportunities facing our
industry and how modern
science and innovation
can address many of these
challenges. We also hope
it will stimulate debate and
feedback on how AgriSearch
can best meet the needs of
its farmer levy payers over
the next 20 years.”
Concluding, Mr Bell said:
“AgriSearch is a small
organisation with big
ambitions for our industry.
Only by working as a catalyst
with our research partners,
our enthusiastic team of
farmer co-researchers,
the agri-food industry and
government can we hope to
achieve our aim.
“That remains – to make
the Northern Ireland
ruminant livestock sector
more competitive, profitable
and sustainable.”
Writing in the booklet,
vice-chair John Henning
said a central principle of
AgriSearch was to act as
“careful custodians of levy
funds collected from beef,
dairy and sheep farmers for
research to improve their
Meanwhile, AgriSearch
General Manager Jason
Rankin, in highlighting the
wider value of its work, said:
“AgriSearch’s levy income on
its own would commission
very little in the way of
research. Its real value is
not its pot of funds for R&D,
but the industry engagement
it brings and in particular
ability and experience in onfarm research.”
For as churning the
milk produces butter,
and as twisting the
nose produces blood,
so stirring up anger
produces strife.
Proverbs ch.30, v.33
Send your favourite biblical
to Farm Pulpit, FarmWeek,
113-117 Donegall Street,
Belfast BT1 2GE


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