Forward planning is key for producers

‘Forward Planning’ was the clear message for producers at Cereals in 2015.

Levels of volatility were forecast for 2015 and beyond further compacted by predicted interest rate and exchange rate fluctuations. Growers were encouraged to have a clear understanding of individual cost of production coupled with an informed view of market trends to help steer a positive path forward for arable enterprises. All had the opportunity to embrace and explore new technologies, agronomy, technical and business advice with experts from across the arable sector.

HGCA celebrated its 50th anniversary at Cereals this year and their iconic arches were present, this year the arches were bearing the new logo ‘AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds’, this was the official launch of the new AHDB’s simplified range of brands. AHDB Chair Sir Peter Kendall was joined by CEO Jane King and outlined their ambition for the organisation and the benefits of ‘one AHDB’ delivering for levy payers across all sectors as they unveiled the new logos for the six sector boards.

Date for Your Diary: Closer to home UFU, CAFRE and UAS representatives have met recently to progress co-ordinating the 2016 Arable Conference scheduled for Tuesday 12th January 2016 at CAFRE Greenmount Antrim.

Voluntary Initiative: Voluntary Initiative co-ordinators including UFU were present at Cereals and continued to engage with users to promote responsible pesticide use. This year a new publication ‘Insecticides Best Practice advice for farmers and operators’ was available and will be a valuable tool helping farmers and sprayer operators minimise the environmental impact of insecticides and safeguard the future use of plant protection products. A copy of the new publication can be found on www.voluntaryinitiative.org.uk

The Comber Early: Potato producers progress plans as the Comber Potato Festival draws near. Local Comber Early growers are working tirelessly to ensure crops are ready for the popular event on Saturday 4 July in Comber town square. The festival begins on Thursday 2 July with the Comber Farmers market, a Cookery Masterclass from Radio Ulster’s resident chef Paula McIntyre and a Potato Festival pub quiz in North Down House.

Comber Earlies will be available for sampling at the Comber Potato Festival on Saturday 4 July from 10am to 5pm, along with other local artisan producers who will have the very finest of local produce on display and also featuring cookery demonstrations, celebrity chefs, vintage tractors, children’s activities, live music and a petting farm. The event draws to a close on Sunday 5 July with a Thanksgiving Service in Comber Square at 3.30pm.

Consultation: New Seed Marketing Regulations (Northern Ireland 2015). The UFU Potato Policy Committee is currently considering the proposed amendments. The main purpose of the proposed new regulation is to consolidate five existing regulations down to one. These include The Cereal Seeds Regulation (Northern Ireland) 2009, the Beet Seeds Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009, the Fodder Plant Seeds Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009, the Oil and Fibre Plant Seeds Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 and the connected Seeds (Registration, Licensing and Enforcement) Regulations (Northern Ireland 2009 into a single document. DARD has advised this will be done through the use of horizontal provisions applicable to each of the crop groups and ambulatory reference to the technical standards in the parent marketing Directives.

As this is a consolidation, current procedures will remain the same; however the Department will revise and update existing guidance on the matter. This new regulation will also introduce a number of minor and technical amendments and will clarify the position regarding farm saved seed to ensure that it cannot be marketed or shared.

Joint Arable and Horticulture Meeting: UFU are progressing plans for a Joint Arable and Horticulture Meeting for UFU Seeds & Cereals, Potato and Vegetable Committees on Tuesday 30th June in The Lecture Theatre, Greenmount Campus, Antrim. Agenda items include discussion around Business Development Groups, and Progress with the Business Investment Scheme - Pillar II Capital Investment.