Nutritional selling points of beef, the importance of grass-based beef production and the promotion of a Northern Irish Angus beef brand are just some of the ways the competitors in the ABP Youth Challenge set about impressing the independent panel of judges at the semi-final event held in CAFRE Loughry College, Cookstown, yesterday.
The 11 teams of teenagers ranging from 14 to 16-year old presented their ideas for a place in the final and the chance to win Aberdeen Angus calves to rear through to finishing. They were from Co. Antrim, Belfast Royal Academy and Royal Belfast Academic Institute; St Louis Grammar Ballymena and Ballyclare Secondary School; from Co. Armagh St Patrick’s High School, as well as Dromore High School, Co. Down; Rainey Endowed School, from Co. Londonderry; Enniskillen Royal Grammar, Co. Fermanagh; Holy Trinity College, Cookstown Co. Tyrone; and Collone Young Farmers Club, Co. Armagh.
Congratulating the teams on their hard work to date, Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland, George Mullan said: “The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is about investing for the future of farming and food production in Northern Ireland through skills development of our young people. If the talent on display in this room today is any indicator of future success, then we have a lot to be positive about.”
Judge Michael Bell, Executive Director of NIFDA, added: “I have been hugely impressed by the enthusiasm of the semi finalists today. The projects have delivered strong learning outcomes about beef. Some of the female students are telling me they are inspired to get into farming because technology is making it easier. Minette Batters, the new NFU President, is their role model.”
Three finalist teams will be announced after Easter and presented with five Aberdeen Angus x calves at a high-profile public event during the 150th Balmoral Show in May. They will go on to rear their calves through to sale to ABP over an 18-month skills development programme covering insights into beef production from farm to fork. In addition, they will benefit financially from the profit at sale of the calves to ABP. One overall winning team will also win £1,000 cash prize for their school or club.
The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is organised in partnership with the Northern Irish Angus Producers Group. Judging the semi-finalists were industry experts from leading organisations across the farming and agri-food sectors.