The Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) held its second agricultural conference at the Glenavon Hotel in Cookstown.
Entitled ‘Inspire’, the conference was host to a mix of formal presentations, workshops and farm visits and was attended by over 120 delegates from all over Northern Ireland.
Sponsored by Massey Ferguson and with support from the Ulster Farmers’ Union, the conference was aimed at helping attendees identify opportunities as they plan the future of their own farm businesses.
The day began with an opening welcome speech from Michelle McIlveen, Minister for Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
The delegates then had the opportunity to visit one of three case study farms, all of which are at the forefront of their respective sectors. The farms were the specialist beef production business managed by the McCrea family from Cookstown, Steven and Alex Brown’s dairy farm in Moneymore and The Jungle NI at Tobermore.
Following this, delegates then had the choice to attend a choice of four workshops. They covered a wide range of topics from improving sheep margins through to the uptake of new technology. The workshops were as follows: using new technology and knowledge to improve sheep farming by Isaac Crilly and Mike Millar, sponsored by Dunbia; financial management in agriculture by Jason McMinn from FarmGate Consultancy; technology by Massey Ferguson; Johnes and BVD by Sam Strain from AHWNI; dairy herd fertility: feeding, breeding and management by Finbar Mulligan and sponsored by Chestnutt Animal Feeds; land mobility by YFCU and UFU; simple techniques to improve profits through better grassland management by Gareth Davies from GGAS Ltd and sponsored by Dunbia; the role of production systems and husbandry in dairy farm profitability by Finbar Mulligan and sponsored by Chestnutt Animal Feeds; synchronisation and AI in beef cattle: how to get good results by Aurelie Moralis from Zoetis; digital techonology in animal health by Simon Doherty from Blackwater Consultancy; dairy farming in Saudi Arabia by Denis Torrens and working together as producers by Dunbia.
The culmination of the agri conference ended with a dinner and guest speakers Martin and Mel Irvine from ‘This Farming Life’.
YFCU president Roberta Simmons commented: “The Inspire agri conference was an excellent opportunity for our agriculture experts to share their knowledge with the wider agricultural community through a series of farm visits and workshops to keep them up to date with current trends, opportunities and developments. The entire event was built around inspiring everyone and building for the future of our industry, to encourage everyone to fulfil their potential and make our industry as successful as possible.
“I would like to thank platinum sponsor Massey Ferguson for their continued support of this event as well as the Ulster Farmers’ Union. I would also like to extend our thanks to the owners of the farms for letting us visit and indeed to all the organisations involved in the delivery of the inspiring and informative workshops. Thanks are also extended to Michelle McIlveen, Minister for Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, for her attendance and welcoming speech. Finally, I would also like to thank our guest speakers Martin and Mel Irvine from ‘This Farming Life’ who rounded off the successful event.”
Sean McAvoy, Massey Ferguson field technical manager, also commented: “The YFCU agri conference is going from strength to strength and Massey Ferguson was delighted to have sponsored the event. It was a pleasure to be involved with such a motivated, receptive and inspired gathering of young farmers for the second year around. We look forward to joining YFCU’s members at the forthcoming AGM.”
UFU president, Barclay Bell said: “The UFU were delighted to have supported the Inspire agri conference and all those who attended got a great deal out of the farm visits and informative workshops.
“During the conference we also launched the UFU/YFCU Next Generation Development Forum. The objectives of this forum will be to encourage farmers under the age of 40 to become more involved in shaping future policy.
“This is yet another example, following on from the joint ‘Land Mobility’ initiative, of the two organisations working together on the major objective of delivering genuine and meaningful betterment for the farming industry in Northern Ireland.”