2015 was another successful year for the North West Derry Group under the chairmanship of David Crockett with help from vice chairman Clement Lynch.
The programme of speakers this year has been excellent provoking new thinking and ideas as well as some lively debate especially in this year of challenges faced by all sectors of agriculture.
In November it was great to see a full bus of members head to the Kingspan Stadium to watch Ulster play Saracens in the European Champions Cup.
Back in June a group of 19 group members and friends got on their bikes to raise money for the Farm Safety Foundation. This charity was set up by the NFU Mutual to promote the farm safety message to young farmers to try and reduce the awful toll that farm accidents are taking on our industry.
The cyclists took part in the Giro D’Italia Gran Fondo, a legacy event following the first stages of the Giro D’Italia road race that were held in Northern Ireland in 2014. The event was a gruelling 110 miles leaving the Titanic Quarter in Belfast with over 3,000 other cyclists travelling through the Mourne Mountains to Rostrevor returning back to finish in the Titanic Quarter.
The group were very distinctive in their “Cycling Farmers” jerseys and raised over £3,500 for the charity in the process.
In July the group helped to organise a new event for the county at Limavady Show. This took the form of a barbeque and live music in the marquees on the Thursday prior to the show instead of the annual county dinner. This event was a great success with nearly 300 in attendance. Plans are already being worked on for this year’s event.
The group has also been busy dealing with the many issues affecting farmers locally, including the provision of safe crossings on the railway, flooding on the Roe as well as many other individual queries and issues dealt with over the course of the year including planning problems, cross compliance, TB, single farm payment, and dumping. These issues all cause stress and financial hardship for the farmers that are affected.
The cereal and silage competitions were again held this year and as always are keenly contested. We had great success at a national level in the Cereals Competition; James Wray was placed first in the Oats section and Richard Kane first in the Spring Barley section.
This was an excellent result for the group taking 50% of the top places and demonstrates the knowledge and expertise in this sector within the group.
The group silage competition winners were Alternative Forage Section Montgomery Brothers, Beef and Sheep section Norris and Richard McCracken and Dairy section David and John Hatrick.