“There is now a strong awareness that the average age of farmers in Northern Ireland is high. As a consequence, encouraging young people into the industry is something ABP is committed to. There are opportunities right across the entire scope of the beef sector, from primary production through to processing and marketing,” commented Arthur Callaghan, ABP Blade Farming Co-Ordinator.
Callaghan made these comments on his return from accompanying sixteen teenagers – all finalists in the ‘ABP Angus Youth Challenge’ on a beef supply chain study tour.
The two-day trip commenced with an induction at CAFRE’s Food Innovation Centre at Loughry College supported by the Livestock and Meat Commission. They were then flown over to visit ABP’s state-of-the-art processing centre at Ellesmere in Shropshire.
“The event provided the finalists from this year’s competition with the opportunity to get a genuine sense of just how expansive the beef production, processing and marketing chain really is,” he added.
“The ABP Angus Youth Challenge was conceived as a means of encouraging children at secondary school to consider developing careers within the beef sector and to put their skills to best use across the industry as a whole.
“Critically, the ABP Angus Youth Challenge has a strong focus on how best to manage cattle on farm. It also provides a mechanism by which those participating can improve their communication and teamwork skills and their knowledge of the beef industry as a whole.”
Other highlights of the two-day farm-to-fork study tour included visits to a specialist calf-to-beef farm to gain insights on best practice and to a leading retail outlet in the North West of England. The finalists were able to understand how decisions taken during rearing can be informed by an awareness of what the customer and consumer want.
The finalists also sat in on a presentation given by a master butcher while also receiving an insight into the management of the ABP’s new Olleco renewables plant at Ellesmere.
ABP is committed to making its beef processing operation at Ellesmere environmentally sustainable. This is an integral part of the Group wide sustainability agenda which has seen the company be the first food processor in the world to win the triple certification to the Carbon Trust Standard for the third consecutive time.
This year’s Balmoral Show saw ABP presenting the sixteen teenagers – four teams of four from schools across Northern Ireland - with their very own calves. These finalists will now rear the animals through to finishing weights as they vie to win the inaugural ABP Angus Youth Challenge.
The students in question are from Belfast Royal Academy in Belfast; Enniskillen Royal Grammar; Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt and St Louis Grammar School in Ballymena.
Each team received five Angus cross calves. The animals will be finished in approximately 12 months’ time.
There is a £1,000 cash prize on-offer for the overall winning team. The initiative will see an accurate record kept of all the costings involved. The finalists can specifically avail of the advice available from the ABP Blade Farming team, which is headed-up by Arthur Callaghan.
Entries from schools, clubs, societies or groups of friends for the 2019 ABP Angus Youth Challenge are now being sought. The closing date for entries is Friday November 30th. The initiative was developed in association with the Northern Irish Angus Irish Producers Group.
For more information, visit the ABP Food Group web site: www.abpfoodgroup.com