Winter Fair showcases all that is good about agri-sector - Poots
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Speaking at the 35th Royal Ulster Winter Fair, Mr Poots said the dairy sector is one of Northern Ireland’s most important agricultural sectors.
“Winter Fair is a firm favourite in the agricultural calendar, as well as my own, and has a great reputation for attracting some of the best pedigree dairy stock for its championship competitions,” he stated.
“There are animal sales, trade stands and exhibitions, including many from my own department, but I believe one of the most important aspects of Winter Fair is the opportunities it offers farmers to chat over the challenges they are facing within the industry.
“It is also a great day out for visitors, young and old.”
He continued: “Our agri-food sector is crucial to both the farming community and everyone in Northern Ireland.
“In 2021 the total gross output of our agriculture sector was £2.23 billion with dairy the largest contributor with an output value of £667 million (30 per cent).
“They produced 2.4 billion litres of milk.
“Dairy farmers have faced an extremely challenging couple of years with variable milk prices and increasing production costs.
“And, whilst it is encouraging to see farm gate prices for milk increasing we must continue to work with the industry to support their businesses and develop greater confidence in a sustainable future for both this and future generations.
“I hope to shortly publish a consultation on our Future Agricultural Policy Proposals for Northern Ireland to help us develop better and improved future support measures for the agricultural sector.
“And my hope is that the outcome of that will move us closer to the goal of making Northern Ireland a world-class food region, recognised for its sustainability, safety and top quality products that benefit our people, health, environment and economy.”
The Agriculture Minister said no visit to the one-day show would be complete without calling at the DAERA exhibition at stand EK 1 in the Eikon Exhibition Centre.
“Our DAERA stand is packed with topical information and advice for dairy producers.
“You can learn more about how to improve your carbon footprint, or about our Environmental Farming Schemes and get advice on registering cattle births, deaths and movements.
“Talk to our experts about biosecurity measures to help protect herds against TB or about nitrates derogation and let our staff help you calculate the Nitrogen loading for your farm.
“And take time to ask about our Farm Business Improvement Scheme and the funding opportunities it can offer you.
“Winter Fair is an excellent opportunity to showcase our agri-sector, grow your business, learn how to develop your knowledge and skills as well as a great forum for sharing the latest developments in innovation and technology,” Minister Poots concluded.