Dairy experts’ high praise for Ulster livestock during their visit (1928)
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Forty-three delegates who had attended the congress which had been held in London in July 1928 were visiting Ireland for a week's tour, and had been the guests of the Northern Government at dinner in the Grand Central Hotel.
The visitors had represented 15 countries, and included many from the Continent, as well as representatives from the United States, Japan, and Egypt.
Earlier in the day they had enjoyed a motor tour from the Giant’s Causeway to Coleraine, Ballyrashane and Limavady, and “saw something of the dairying industry in those districts”.
With much interest the Ballyrashane Creamery, where they were received Mr J Lyon, the manager, the Reverend Thomas Caldwell (secretary), Mr A McKinlay, JP, and other members of committee.
The News Letter reported: “The visitors found the creamery in full working order.”
Later in the day they visited Miss Robertson's dairy farm at Limavady. The party was accompanied Messrs R H Wilkinson and H Dales, of the Northern Ministry of Agriculture.
The Right Honourable Sir Edward Archdale, Bart, DL, the Minister of Agriculture, presided at the dinner.
The Minister of Agriculture, proposing the toast of “The World’s Dairy Congress,” said he was proud to welcome, on behalf the Northern Government, so many experts from so many countries.
He said: “Northern Ireland was a small part the British Empire, but it is not an unimportant place from an agricultural point of view.
“Its output of milk and butter represented £3,100,000 in one year, livestock £5,545,000, and poultry, eggs, and feathers, £3,370,000.”
The minister added: “The Ulster farms averaged only 23 acres extent, as against an average of acres in Scotland; and Northern Ireland had 104,000 farmers, as against 76,000 Scotland.”
Sir Edward Archdale said that it was important to keep costs of farming low in Northern Ireland.
He said: “The difficulty here is to reach this large number of farmers for the purposes education in agricultural methods, and yet keep down the cost of keeping in touch with them.
“Shortly after the government had been set up, a bill was passed through parliament for the regulation of bulls, because they wanted to ensure that Ulster store cattle should be as good as, if not better than, those of any country in the world.
“With the aid of the milk recording societies, the milk yield of cows had been increased by over 200 gallons per year.
“Measures had also been taken to regulate the sale of eggs, and the result was that Northern Ireland eggs had taken top place in the English market.”
Sir Edward said: “Englishmen always asked me why in Ireland hay was collected in small stacks. The reason is that if it were gathered in large stacks, as in England, the humidity of the atmosphere would cause the stacks to go on fire.
“But there is one recompense Ireland – we get about double the crop of hay.”
He said that he thought they would have seen that the Northern Ireland farmers made “as much as possible out of their land” event though “a lot of it was sticky, and had a bad sub-soil, while the weather is far from being all they would desire”.
Mr A D Allen, the organising secretary of the congress, who responded, said that the object of the conferences was to “place the dairying industry and agriculture generally on a rather higher plane than at present”.
He said: “The congress just over had been a great success. We had had some 3,800 delegates from 47 countries. Ireland as a whole, and Northern Ireland in particular, is a great dairying country, and I think that the delegates in the course of their two days tour had seen and learned something to their advantage.”
Professor S Orla-Jenson, one of the delegates from Denmark, proposed the health of the chairman, and, in doing so, said he had never seen a more picturesque coast than that of Co Antrim.
He said: “It is easy to see that Northern Ireland is a country of great possibilities.”