With a packed audience in the White Horse, Campsie, the NW Derry UFU group hosted a very topical Brexit debate event last Monday night.
The night started with the presentation of the Group Silage Competition Cups. First place in the Beef and Sheep sector went to S J Wilson and Son, J Craig and Sons won the Dairy sector and John McCollum and Sons were awarded first prize in the Alternative Forage category.
There was strong cross border representation from members of the neighbouring IFA who had travelled from Co Donegal to join the debate.
Richard Halleron was welcomed as the guest chair for the event by group chairman, Clement Lynch. Richard spent a few minutes setting the scene before welcoming both guest speakers and debate leaders, Joe Healey, president of the IFA, and Ivor Ferguson, deputy president of the UFU.
Each speaker gave interesting and stimulating points of view on Brexit, from both sides of the border, before questions were raised from the audience. Both speakers commented that there is a good working relationship between the two organisations which will continue and be beneficial for the farming community in the future.
Lively debate ensued around the common challenges faced by both jurisdictions with TB, animal health, environmental opportunities and carbon footprint of production costs being a few of the topics raised.
Further discussions developed around the Euro/Sterling exchange and the impact on agricultural commodities. The focus then turned to other countries with New Zealand and Turkish agricultural production models discussed in the round. Closer to home, the audience posed questions regarding the unique border position Northern Ireland has within the UK, while thought provoking discussion developed with regard to the Republic’s unique export/import position with Great Britain.
Both the IFA and the UFU made clear that with or without our respective politicians, farming needed a strong and loud voice going forward in this ever changing political environment. Trade deals were central to the continued success and sustainability of the sector.
After a full and lively debate, the evening was drew to a close with a vote of thanks to the platform party from Robert Moore, Seeds and Cereals NW Derry Group Commodity representative, followed by concluding remarks and thanks from Francis Burns, Donegal IFA county secretary.