Union welcomes the first Monitor Farm in Co Down

Robert Moore, AHDB
Robert Moore, AHDB

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has welcomed the first AHDB Monitor farm in County Down. The UFU have lobbied for Northern Ireland to be included as a region in the UK to participate in Monitor Farms for a number of years.

UFU Seeds and Cereals Chairman Allan Chambers said: “The Monitor Farm concept is a proven successful method of knowledge sharing and learning, whereby farmers, by actively owning and operating the scheme on a host farm will become more competitive in today’s market place.

“This system of positive learning from peers has been on-going in other parts of the UK for some time now and as such we are delighted that the AHDB are facilitating this new venture in Northern Ireland. We strongly recommend that our arable farmers give their full support to our young and enthusiastic participant Richard Orr.”

Downpatrick farmer, Richard Orr, will be the first to host a Monitor Farm in Northern Ireland. He runs Meadow Farm with his father, growing winter wheat and spring and winter barley as well as potatoes, turnips and grass.

Mr Orr said: “I am looking forward to the challenge of the monitor farm programme, but I see myself as the facilitator and I require the support and interaction of the local arable sector to drive the programme forward if it is to be successful.”

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Monitor Farms, of which there are already a number of in other parts of the UK, bring together groups of like-minded farmers who wish to improve their businesses by sharing performance information and best practice around a nationwide network of host farms.

Robert Moore, who represents Northern Ireland on the AHBD Research and Knowledge Exchange Advisory Committee, commented: “The Monitor Farm Programme has been running very successfully in GB for the last few years. It is a proven model and works because it is driven by farmers and involves farmers in the decision making process. The whole process is fully supported by specialist AHDB staff who have access to a huge bank of information, research and specialist advice. It is likely to be particularly beneficial as we move towards the development of a new agricultural policy outside the EU. I urge all forward thinking arable farmers to support our first Monitor Farmer and make the programme a success in Northern Ireland.”

Farmers coming along to the Monitor Farm meetings, which will be hosted by Richard, will be able to learn from each other, share experiences and discuss solutions. The Monitor Farm project will run for three years.

AHDB organises and facilitates Monitor Farm meetings for farmers, who own and operate the scheme.

The launch event of the Monitor Farm is June 19.

Anyone interested in attending should contact Judith Stafford, the AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager for Northern Ireland, on judith.stafford@ahdb.org.uk or telephone 07891 556 623.