Ulster Farmers’ Union President Ian Marshall welcomed Council Members to the UFU’s Annual General Meeting held at Loughry College Cookstown, where Wesley Aston officially stepped into his new role as CEO of the UFU.
The AGM was also addressed by the Secretary General of COPA COGECA Pekka Pesonen who outlined his views on CAP Reform, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks, and livestock issues.
Mr Marshall said: “This year’s AGM also marks the end of an era for outgoing Chief Executive Clarke Black as he hands over the reins to UFU Policy Director Wesley Aston.
“Clarke has been leading the organisation for the last thirteen years and has steered the UFU through a number of significant events including various reforms of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), episodes of severe weather, the 2008 dioxin scare, and the devastating foot and mouth crisis. Under his leadership the Union has grown and developed and he is leaving the organisation in a strong and healthy position.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to wish Clarke well on his retirement and congratulate Wesley on the CEO appointment. Wesley has been with the UFU for over twenty years and brings with him a very extensive knowledge and understanding of both Northern Ireland Agriculture and the UFU as an organisation.”
Commenting on his appointment, new UFU CEO Wesley Aston said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the Union’s Chief Executive. I am very fortunate and proud to be able to work with such a well-respected organisation and a terrific group of people, from our grass-root members and Group Managers to our Presidential Team and dedicated Headquarters staff.
“I have also greatly valued Clarke’s guidance and it has been a privilege to have worked with him over the past thirteen years. Clarke has left the UFU in a very strong position which will allow us to not only continue as an organisation to lobby on a wide range of policy issues but also provides a real opportunity for the UFU to focus on the economic sustainability of farming by maximising market returns, maximising government support and minimising production costs.
“My vision for the future direction of the Union is one where we are more proactive and directly involved in the input/output dynamics of farming and to help create and drive forward industry lead initiatives which would be supported by Government both locally and at EU levels.”
Also at the UFU AGM, an Honorary Life Membership was presented to John Clarke, from Ballymena.
John has been a lifelong member of the Union through his involvement in the various UFU committees. He has been Chairman of the UFU west Antrim Group, UFU County Antrim Chairman, and has sat on the UFU Beef and Lamb Committee, Rural Development Committee and the UFU Executive Committee.
John also sits on the Board of Governor’s for St Paul’s Primary School, Ahoghill and is a member of the Moravian Church in Gracehill, Ballymena.