DUP MEP Diane Dodds has pledged her continued support for the Farming Life and Danske Bank Awards which recognise the wealth of talent in the agriculture sector across Northern Ireland.
Confirming that she will this year be supporting the award for “Young Farmer of the Year”, Mrs Dodds said: “It is a real pleasure to once again be able to support the Farming Life and Danske Bank awards, which represent an opportunity to showcase the talent and innovation present right across agriculture in our Province.
“This year, I will be supporting the “Young Farmer of the Year” award, a section of the industry which deserves recognition in light of the challenges it faces.
“Young people are the future of the industry here in Northern Ireland and ultimately are a measure of how successful the industry can be.
“Young people bring new ideas and vitality to an industry which needs to be encouraged, however they also need to be mentored to ensure that these ideas are nurtured and potential reached.
“This is a challenge to everyone involved, and especially to the family farming model we have and cherish.
“I have made it a priority at a European level to ensure that young farmers receive as much support as necessary.
“While the new Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) addresses some of the associated issues, I feel we can do much more.
“Access to credit to support young farmers and business set-up - albeit in a responsible manner - must be addressed going forward.
“At home and Westminster, the issues of land availability must be tackled to afford young farmers an opportunity to access land. Ultimately, the main objective is to make agriculture profitable for everyone – and this is the best way to recruit for any sector.
“I would encourage any young farmer who is passionate about what they do to enter for this award and show what young people can offer agriculture here in Northern Ireland,” Mrs Dodds added.
Now in their fifth year, the Farming Life and Danske Bank awards provides a number of categories to reward all sectors of the industry, including the primary producers.
The closing date is Friday, 4th September and the gala dinner will take place in the Ramada Plaza, Shaws Bridge, Belfast on Thursday 29th October.
For full details in relation to all the awards and how to enter see page 16.