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animals that are genuinely sick, but reliance on antibiotics can be decreased by supporting the animals themselves.

“The objective for everyone must be to ensure that our farms are home to increasing numbers of healthy animals that will not require antibiotics at any stage in their lives,” she said.


Michael McAree, the new Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association (NIGTA) president, has confirmed that 2017 was another year of strong growth for the animal feed processing sector. Speaking at the organisation’s annual dinner, he said that the industry had secured record output levels in 2017.

“We have also seen a very strong start to 2018,” said McAree. “This is a welcome trend that has been sustained for the past 20 years. The development of the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland is impressive. Based on a highly efficient and well-managed livestock sector, it is the major success story in our economy. Output has grown through efficiencies on the farm, better genetics, improved nutrition and more integrated supply chains.

“Our trade has supported this growth through investment, not just in terms of plant and equipment, but in research and development,” he continued. “We have also seen the establishment of robust quality systems to protect the food chain. This has been matched with the training of people to produce better nutritional solutions and to deliver the technical support for the industry.”

McAree confirmed that local food businesses now market three- quarters of their product outside of Northern Ireland.

“For every consumer we feed in Northern Ireland, we provide for two in mainland U.K. and another one in the wider world,” he said. “While this is a triumph for our industry and for our food marketeers, it does bring its challenges. Our industry carries the environmental footprint of food consumed beyond our shores as well as that of our local customers.”

Sustainability has been a major theme as the feed compounding industry has grown, said McAree.

“As a trade, we recognise that the efficient use of inputs and the reduction of emissions to our atmosphere and waterways are key areas that we can influence,” he said.

“The Feed Adviser Register is now well-established, with 130 advisors registered with the Northern Ireland network,” continued McAree. “The coming months will see the launch of a new training programme specifically designed to prepare sales and advisory staff

who are in daily contact with farmers to tackle the environmental challenges faced by local farmers.”

Advisors are in a unique position to deliver the key messages on nutrient efficiency, particularly in terms of feed and fertiliser inputs. This training has been produced in consultation with all relevant industry partners and agencies and supports the work of the land management group and the greenhouse gas action plan.

“We look forward to the rollout of the training program over the summer months and appreciate the support of the agricultural colleges in its delivery,” he said.


the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA),

acknowledged the initiative by European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan to curtail unfair trading practices (UTPs) within the farming and food chain.

“The introduction of a minimum common standard of protection across member states is to be welcomed, but this is only a first step in reining in retailers and rebalancing power in the food chain,” said Healy. “The current situation, where processors and retailers always make a margin while farmers are sometimes forced to produce at or below the cost of production, is totally unacceptable.”

The proposed directive provides for the designation of “a public authority” for the purpose of enforcement, he said.

“IFA’s experience is that an independent retail regulator with a specific remit is required, similar to the U.K. grocery code adjudicator, which has proved to be a game-changer,” said Healy. “In Ireland’s case,

this function is being subsumed in the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, where its effectiveness is lost. The proposed directive holds up the U.K. model as best practice, and this is the model that the Irish government must follow.”

The 2016 Irish Grocery Goods Regulations introduced measures in Ireland banning UTPs, which are now to be outlawed at European level under the proposed directive. “The single biggest

issue for farmers is that the they have no

confidence in the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to enforce the regulations,” said Healy. “The establishment by the government of a visible and active independent retail regulator would give confidence to suppliers that their complaints would be taken seriously and pursued.”

The aim of the harmonisation approach being proposed is to tackle a short list of UTPs and to provide for enforcement powers to tackle the fear factor, he explained. In addition, it is proposed that

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