Latest arable and horticulture update

Second COVID-19 support package for NI processing potato sector

Sunday, 6th June 2021, 12:30 pm

After much lobbying and many DAERA meetings, Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) deputy president William Irvine welcomes Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots’ announcement of a £2million coronavirus (COVID-19) support scheme for potato growers.

Growers who still have quantities of unsold potatoes in their stores which were destined for the potato processing supply chain, must complete an online ‘expression of interest form’ to register for the scheme and request an inspection of all potatoes held in their stores.

With the hospitality industry reopening, growers with good quality potatoes in cold stores may yet have an opportunity to sell their potatoes into the processing market. Final inspections of potatoes held in cold stores to verify quantities that are only suitable for stock feed will not take place until late July.

UFU cereal competition

The UFU have announced that after a break last year due to coronavirus restrictions, the competition returns in a new format to facilitate current regulations and recognise those that are producing crops to a high standard. 

For 2021, group entries will be collected as normal, judged at a local level and progressed to a new ‘county’ stage where the winner will move on to the NI final.

Contact your local NFU/UFU group manager to enter. 

NI Protocol unintended consequences for arable & horticulture farmers

UFU deputy president William Irvine alongside growers and trade representatives, navigated meetings with DAERA and DEFRA officials to try to find immediate solutions for agricultural input supply issues. UFU president Victor Chestnutt has advised Minister Poots and Lord Frost, of the situation and calls on all to find a pragmatic solution.

Logistical issues around movement of seed from Great Britain (GB) to NI continues as the industry plan autumn planting requirements. Sampling, testing and certification requirements as they stand, it is feared will impact greatly on seed variety options made available on the NI market in a timely fashion for autumn planting. 

Plant protection product availability and anomalies in GB, European Union legislation and an additional layer of bureaucratic administration for NI regulatory requirements, will be devastating if a solution is not found now. The UFU fear these totally unworkable legislative requirements will suffocate the future of agriculture and horticulture here in NI, GB and Republic of Ireland. Political intervention at the highest level is required and the UFU urge government to do the right thing and ensure unfettered access as promised, results immediately.

Regrettably, the UFU are horrified with the lack of urgency surrounding both the cereal seed and plant protection product problems. 

Veg Summit NI

16 June 2021, 10am to 11am

Register now for the first Veg Summit NI, hosted by FoodNI, as part of the Peas Please UK wide veg summit series. UFU deputy president William Irvine and the chair and vice-chair of the UFU vegetable committee, will share the ongoing work within UFU for horticulture and set out their vision going forward. The Food Foundation will also share some of the key findings from the 2021 veg facts report and learn how you can help to support the NI veg challenge in your role. Registration and further info can be found using the following link: Meeting Registration - Zoom.