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Annual Conference 2019

Event Details

  • Date: 22 Jan 2019
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Fascinating insight into farming for future years at 60th UGS Annual Conference

The Sixtieth Annual Conference of the Ulster Grassland Society took place on 22nd January 2019 when around 200 delegates gathered at the Dunadry Hotel, Templepatrick to hear a number of excellent presentations focused on the future for family farms.

The Conference was chaired by newly elected Society President Jim Freeburn who introduced all of the speakers and kept proceedings to time.

The opening speaker was Hertfordshire farmer and NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts who gave a wide-ranging presentation on his views of farming in the future across the United Kingdom. He believes that farmers have “allowed people to forget about food” and that recent “changing weather patterns have affected the just in time food supply chain”.

He went on to discuss the current debate about the inclusion of farming in the Governments Agriculture Bill and maintained that “food is not a public good but a secure food supply chain is a public good” and highlighted the need for farmers to continue telling their story. To View the presentation please click Here.

Local dairy farmer Robert Bryson then outlined his grass based dairy farming operation at Banbridge where he is endeavouring to “handover a sustainable and successful farming business to the next generation if they want to farm”. His dairy herd of 160 Holstein Friesian cows is currently yielding 9,000 litres of milk with 3,950 litres produced from forage on twice daily milking and no diet feeder. On the farm there is a major focus on rearing dairy replacements to calve down at under two years and achieve an average lifetime production of 47,000 litres.

Robert highlighted the importance of a work : life balance in his business and the need to “work smarter not work harder”.   To View the presentation please click Here.

After lunch James Daniel a farmer and grazing consultant from Cornwall outlined his career to date highlighting the importance of mentors, neighbours and friends in helping those in farming make the right decisions for their business and well-being. Under the heading of the three C’s he encouraged delegates to “ make the right Choice to take the Chance to make the Change” in business and life. To View the presentation please click Here.

The final speaker was another native of Banbridge this time Dr Andrew Cromie, Technical Director at the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation based in Co Cork. His presentation on Growing agriculture in an uncertain future outlined the role of ICBF particularly in genetics and genomics for the dairy, beef and sheep sectors.

He highlighted a number of key areas in which ICBF operates for the benefit of the 100,000 livestock farmers they service with DNA Based Calf Registration likely to be a ‘game changer’ in the industry.   To View the presentation please click Here.

Throughout the day delegates, which included a number of students from CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus, were able to interact though a UGS Conference App with most questions for the speakers accessed online and proving very successful.

The Conference was closed by presentations of gifts to four excellent speakers and a vote of thanks was ably proposed by new UGS President Elect Charlie Kilpatrick from Hillsborough.

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