Union hits the road with new format for 2017

Barclay Bell, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Barclay Bell, deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Ulster Farmers’ Union members can look forward to a new format when they attend the group’s January meetings at locations around the province.

As the union announced the dates for its annual January meetings, it also revealed that the traditional meeting would be replaced by roadshow-style events.

“Out will go the traditional president’s area meetings, to be replaced with a new roadshow type discussion and debate format, under the title ‘the future of farming’,” said UFU president Barclay Bell. These will begin on January 9 in Enniskillen.

“There are key issues about which we want to update our members. Brexit, volatility, profitability, the supply chain, succession and animal and plant diseases are some of the many on-going issues. These continue to challenge our industry. In particular Brexit, given that Article 50 could be triggered by March. These road show events are an opportunity to hear members’ views, and for them to put questions directly to the UFU leadership team. However, the focus will be on the facilitated panel discussion. We are expecting lots of questions and a spirited debate,” said the UFU president, adding that with the new format and a focus on the future, he and the rest of the leadership team were looking forward to hitting the road in January.

The UFU has secured the help of a number of journalists, all with a keen interest in agriculture, to chair the meetings and facilitate discussion and debate. “These will be familiar names to our members, all have good knowledge about the current issues facing the industry and will help ensure we all get the most out of discussions,” said Mr Bell.

“This year we want to put the spotlight on our younger members and to hear what they think the future holds. These are the farmers who will ultimately be leading our industry in the years to come, and we want to explore their vision is and what policies they think would help deliver the future in farming they want,” said the UFU president.

Given that succession remains a key concern on many farms, the UFU has also invited NFU Mutual to the road shows to give a short presentation on succession planning. “This is a key element in the future of farming in Northern Ireland. Without a proper succession plan in place a farm family and business could find itself in a very difficult situation,” said Mr Bell.

Visit www.ufuni.org/events for more information about the UFU Winter Road Shows.