New committee elected for the Mid Down Group

John Milligan (outgoing chairman) with Victor Chestnutt (UFU Vice President), Fiona Patterson (Group Manager) and John Mercer (incoming group chairman)
John Milligan (outgoing chairman) with Victor Chestnutt (UFU Vice President), Fiona Patterson (Group Manager) and John Mercer (incoming group chairman)

Mid Down Group members elected their new committee at the annual general meeting on Monday, February 5, in Finnis. Victor Chestnutt chaired the election of committee members and then gave an update on UFU matters.

Victor gave a rundown on his own background and how he has ended up farming suckler cows and sheep near the Giant’s Causeway. He talked about and took questions on the many issues that face the Northern Ireland farmers at the minute. These include TB, badgers and the cost and future of testing; Brexit - will it be a Hard Brexit, a Soft Brexit, or Green Brexit; Ammonia and planning problems. Many of these questions have no answer yet but the policy officers and committee are busy working and lobbying on your behalf to help provide the best possible outcome for all Northern Ireland farms.

Fiona Patterson (Group Manager) pictured with Paul Brown and Mark Forsythe, from Dankse Bank.

Fiona Patterson (Group Manager) pictured with Paul Brown and Mark Forsythe, from Dankse Bank.

The Mid Down group have had a busy start to the 17/18 Winter programme with a very lively first meeting on TB and the current situation facing many Northern Ireland farmers. While many members recognise the need for change in current TB testing and compensation moving forward, they have also reiterated the need for the wildlife issues that increase the spread of the disease to be addressed. Members were adamant that the wildlife carriers and spreaders of the disease need to be controlled before they are willing to accept any further changes. The group would like to thank the speakers Dr Geoff Thompson (UFU Policy officer) and David Kyle (DAERA).

November brought the Farm Mobility Scheme to Finnis when John McCallister addressed the group. He outlined the scheme and the role he has in matching up potential farmers without land to farmers who would like to take a step back but have no one to carry on the business.

Nick Hancock, from the NFU mutual, was also on hand to provide some information on the range of protection products offered by NFU Mutual in conjunction with AIG. These include life, critical illness, income protection and a host of others. If anyone has any queries on any of these they can contact the office.

In December Paul Brown and Mark Forsythe, of Danske Bank, gave a presentation and guidance on identity theft and keeping your personal business details safe. They showed a number of examples of how people were being conned out of a lifetime of savings and how the thief and conman is now a faceless person hiding behind the internet.

Barry Meeke, newcomer winner in group silage competition, with judge Raymond Bready.

Barry Meeke, newcomer winner in group silage competition, with judge Raymond Bready.

The group would like to congratulate the silage makers this year.

Results for the group competition are: 1st, Beef and Sheep – Thomas McKelvey; 1st, Dairy – John Shanks; 1st, Alternative forage – Ivan McCabe; 1st in the Group New comer competition - Philip and Barry Meeke.

The last meeting for the season is on Friday, March 2, and will be an outing to Rathfriland YFC play. Tickets available, on a first come first served basis, through the Ballynahinch Farmers’ Union Office until 16th February 2018.