The Ulster Farmers’ Union elected a new leadership team at its Annual General Meeting.
County Down, sheep, cereals and cut flower producer, Barclay Bell, was officially voted in as President for two years.
County Armagh sheep and arable farmer, Ivor Ferguson was re-elected for a second term as Deputy President and will be joined by newly elected County Antrim beef, sheep and dairy farmer Victor Chestnutt.
Thanking the UFU council and members for their support the new president urged the industry not to be too pessimistic over its current problems, but to instead focus on ways to tackle key issues such as price volatility, red tape and the challenge of attracting young people into an industry going through the worst crisis in a generation. Barclay Bell praised outgoing president, Ian Marshall for leading the UFU and the industry through one of the most challenging periods in Northern Ireland’s agricultural history.
Outlining his priorities as president of the UFU, Barclay Bell said tough times demanded new thinking. He urged farmers and processors to be more open to meaningful cooperation and said a greater focus was needed to deliver on promises about better marketing of local food. With the Assembly elections looming he said the new minister at the combined agriculture and environment department would need to ‘hit the ground running’ to deliver for the industry.
As the UFU approaches its centenary in 2018 Mr Bell said the organisation remained as committed as it always had been to do what is right for Northern Ireland Agriculture.
“We speak with one voice for the industry and will continue to do so,” he told delegates.
The AGM was also addressed by Jerry O’Callaghan, Director of Investor Relations at JBS, the Brazilian company that owns Moy Park and whose scale in beef, lamb, pork and chicken makes it one of the world’s biggest meat producers and a major force in global agriculture.
Barclay Bell, President: Farming 220 acres on an eighth generation farm in Rathfriland, County Down. Enterprises are cereals, sheep, winter accommodation for dairy heifers and willows. Farm diversification has played a role on the farm with a cut flower business now in its tenth year supplying the local trade and a leading multinational. A wind turbine was also erected 6 years ago. Barclay has served as Deputy President of the UFU (2012-2014 and 2014 -2016).
Ivor Ferguson, Deputy President: Ivor Ferguson is a sheep and cereal farmer from Markethill in County Armagh. He is married with four children. He is a graduate from Harper Adams University with an HND in Agriculture and is a founder member of Armagh Quality Lamb Group. Ivor has always been a strong supporter of the Union.
Victor Chestnutt, Deputy President: Victor Chestnutt is a fourth generation farmer based on the North Antrim Coast, near the Giants Causeway. Victor is a beef, sheep and dairy farmer and he farms with his wife Carol and son David. After attending Greenmount in 1978, Victor introduced sheep to the existing outlying suckler herd. With increasing stock numbers, an extensive building project was started and stock numbers continued to grow. Pedigree beef cattle were introduced with the farm now producing Charolais, Angus, Blue and Limousin bulls.