New top team elected to Ulster Farmers' Union
COUNTY Down farmer Barclay Bell has been elected the president of the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU).
Mr Bell, a sheep, cereals and cut flower producer, will serve a two-year term, assisted by Co Armagh farmer Ivor Ferguson who has been re-elected as deputy president for a second term.
Co Antrim beef, sheep and dairy farmer Victor Chestnutt was also voted in as a deputy president.
Speaking at the union's annual general meeting, Mr Bell urged the industry not to be too pessimistic over its current problems, but to instead focus on ways to tackle key issues such as price volatility, red tape and the challenge of attracting young people into an industry going through the worst crisis in a generation.
He praised outgoing president, Ian Marshall for "leading the UFU and the industry through one of the most challenging periods in Northern Ireland's agricultural history".
Outlining his priorities as president of the UFU, MR Bell said "tough times demanded new thinking".
He urged farmers and processors to be more open to meaningful co-operation and said a greater focus was needed to deliver on promises about better marketing of local food.
With the assembly elections looming he said the new minister at the combined agriculture and environment department would need to "hit the ground running" to deliver for the industry.
As the UFU approaches its centenary in 2018, Mr Bell said the organisation remained as committed as it always had been to do what is right for Northern Ireland agriculture.
“We speak with one voice for the industry and will continue to do so,” he told delegates.
The AGM was also addressed by Jerry O'Callaghan, director of investor relations at JBS, the Brazilian company that owns Moy Park and whose scale in beef, lamb, pork and chicken makes it one of the world's biggest meat producers and a major force in global agriculture.