Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) chief executive Michael Bell used the backdrop of the 2016 sponsors’ evening, hosted by Newry Agricultural Society, to deliver a strong vote of confidence in the future of farming throughout Northern Ireland.
“I am fully aware of how challenging international food prices are and the impact this is having on local farm businesses,” he said.
“In fact, it is almost unique to have every food commodity market on a downward cycle at the same time.
“But I can predict with confidence that these trends will change for the better and when this does happen, it will benefit every local farmer.”
Bell said that he could not predict the exact date when these envisaged price increases would kick in: rather he based his prediction on the longer term reality that the world’s population will continue to grow at a significant rate over the coming years.
“The world’s population has doubled over the past 50 years,” he said. “This trend will continue over the coming decades and demand for food will increase accordingly. And there is no reason why we here in Northern Ireland cannot help feed the world.”
The NIFDA representative confirmed that Northern Ireland’s food industry has a very strong heritage.
“We are possibly the best in the UK, when it comes to innovation and adding value. In fact, we do food extremely well. The industry generates 22,000 jobs directly and supports an additional 78,000 indirectly. This includes farmers and all of those companies that deliver goods and services to the food processing sector.”
Newry Agricultural Show Society Chairman Kyle Henry echoed these sentiments.
“Farming and food remain at the very heart of our rural way of life,” he said. “And all of our local shows play a key role in providing a shop window for agriculture in Northern Ireland. But they also represent a tremendous coming together of our rural communities. Without the tremendous voluntary effort put in by countless numbers of people, they just would not take place.
“Newry Show is no different in this regard. Large numbers of people come together of their own volition each year to make it happen, and it is this solidarity which represents the fundamental message of hope for our farming and food industries moving forward.”
This year’s Newry Show takes place on Saturday June 25th: the venue is the Newry Rugby Club on the Hilltown Road. The event continues to grow from strength to strength. In addition to the traditional mix of livestock classes, this year’s show will host an artisan food court, a model aircraft display, a tug of war competition, a funfair plus C& J’s animal park.
“We will also be hosting a fashion show and the ever popular dog show,” confirmed show secretary Brian Lockhart.
“There will also be lots of live music for our visitors to enjoy. We are putting together a tremendous day out for all of the family.
“Our new website: www.newryshow.co.uk, has just gone live. It features all of the information regarding this year’s event, including competition entry forms, which can be easily downloaded.”