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Agriculture Minister attends Young Farmers (YFCU) conference in Ballymena


Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA pictured with Peter Alexander, YFCU President at the opening of the 2022 YFCU Agri-Food Conference.


Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has officially opened the annual YFCU 2022 Agri-Food Conference at the Galgorm Resort and Spa in Ballymena.


The conference offers YFCU members and rural youth across Northern Ireland the opportunity to come together to share and learn from industry experts and pioneers, discussing key topics such as carbon auditing, genomic testing, food marketing and soil health.



Minister Edwin Poots said:


“I am delighted to be able to address the annual YFCU 2022 Agri-Food Conference. I want to start by recognising the commitment and contribution that the YFCU makes to our rural community and to the personal development and employability of thousands of young people.


“I am proud that my Department has been supporting the YFCU since 1934. Young farmers are the new generation and what you learn and adopt sets the foundation for future careers within the agri-food industry and the performance of the industry as a whole.


“Agriculture is the heartbeat of our rural community and over the coming decades, the agri-food industry is facing many significant developments - from the impacts of changes to our climate, changing international markets and trading relationships, consumer demand and technological advances. This will bring a number of challenges but it also presents significant opportunities for Northern Ireland.



“I would encourage you all to embrace these opportunities and help shape future years of Agricultural policy by responding to the Consultation on Future Agricultural Policy Proposals for Northern Ireland which can be accessed on the DAERA website.”


Carbon benchmarking is a relatively new technology on Northern Ireland farms and it is a complex process, but it is something we will all need to embrace.


The Minister added: “An important baseline element to this will be the new Soil Nutrient Health Scheme which is an important first step to behavioural change in relation to nutrient practices and to helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon.


“Alongside this, a LiDAR survey of Northern Ireland will also be undertaken, and this will provide field level run-off maps and quantify the amount of carbon stored in soils and in above ground biomass hedgerows and trees.”



Peter Alexander YFCU President said:


“We were very pleased to hold our 6th Agri-food conference at the Galgorm Resort and Spa this weekend. It was good to be back in person after holding this event virtually last year due to the pandemic. We had a fantastic programme of farm visits, panel discussions and workshops which appealed to all those in the agri-food industry and addressed the theme of our conference “Adapt and Evolve”.


“As an industry facing change and challenges it is vital that we create the opportunities to adapt and evolve our enterprises to secure the future success of the Agri-Food industry. I want to thank all the conference sponsors without whom this event would not be possible.”