The Northern Section held their AGM on 1st June in the Titanic Campus of Belfast Metropolitan College. The event was kindly hosted by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers. Outgoing Chairman Sam Butler reflected on some of the excellent member events that took place during the past year. These included a number of agri-economy briefings hosted by Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank and Ulster Bank. These provided members with access to expertise, analysis and insights about the economic prospects of the NI agri-sector.
Northern section members were also inspired by the positive, innovative spirit of enterprise within the farming community on a visit to Hillstown farm to promote Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend. A highlight of the Northern Section calendar is the RUAS reception at Balmoral Show and this year was no exception with the good weather attracting visitors in their thousands to a spectacular event.
With the Northern Section Guild finances in a very healthy state it was agreed that the Northern Section would follow the lead of the British Guild and make a donation to the Nepal Earthquake Appeal of £500.
The office bearers were re-elected to serve for another year. The members of the full committee are Sam Butler, (Chairman) Tom Morrow, (Treasurer) Michele Filippi, (Secretary) James Campbell, Robert Irwin, Richard Wright, Richard Halleron, Gill McNeill, Ian Harvey, Chris McCullough, Kevin McAuley, Basil Bayne.
On the invitation of the Chairman James Campbell reflected on his trip to the IFAJ Congress in New Zealand where he stepped down as Treasurer to be succeeded by Adrian Bell. A very successful pre-congress tour was followed by an equally successful congress where the host Guild was able to secure sponsorship and generate a positive revenue stream. An outstanding point emerging from the farm visits was that many of New Zealand’s dairy farms are large scale and are focused on ‘debt management’. One highlight of the visits during the tour was the visit to the farm where filming of the Shire setting took place for The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. The farm has become a major tourist attraction now. Tourism has overtaken agriculture as the main revenue generator in the New Zealand economy and it was evident that huge numbers of tourists are visiting from China.