UFU celebrates centenary at annual dinner

The UFU South Tyrone Group was awarded the Mary Wilson Trophy for the best overall UFU group performance in 2017. Pictured accepting the trophy is Denise Kelso and Alison Donaldson with Barclay Bell, UFU President. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

THE Ulster Farmers Union celebrated 100 years in operation at its annual dinner recently.

Over 350 guests, including UFU members and key representatives from the agriculture industry and politicians attended the dinner in the Slieve Donard Hotel on March 23. Notable guests included Stan Phillips, Counsellor for Agriculture Affairs at the US Embassy in London; Denis McMahon, the new permanent secretary for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs; Dan Lawton, US Consul General in Belfast as well as the presidents of the National Farmers' Union, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, and the Irish Farmers' Association.

Addressing the audience UFU president, Barclay Bell said:

“This is a very special year for the UFU as we celebrate our centenary and 100 years of being the voice of farmers. Over the years, our organisation has weathered many challenges. Currently, we are in the thick of Brexit negotiations and while there is some clarity about the way ahead, farmers still face uncertainty. We believe strongly that access to safe, traceable, high quality food is a public right. It would be a great disservice to the public if the Prime Minister and government use food and farming as bargaining chips when negotiating post-Brexit trade deals.”

Reflecting on a hundred years of farming Mr Bell added:

“In March 1934, 1300 farmers packed into the Wellington Hall in Belfast to protest against the imports of cheap food. What emerged from that meeting rings loud and clear today - back our farming Industry. We produce the high quality, safe food UK consumers expect. We care for the environment and deliver for the economy. The message to our government today is exactly the same, keep our farmers farming."

Following the president's address, the Belfast Telegraph Cup for outstanding agricultural achievement was awarded to Dr Sinclair Mayne.

The UFU also presented two other awards on the night. The Mary Wilson Trophy for best overall UFU group performance in 2017 was presented to the South Tyrone group, while the Cuthbert Trophy was awarded to the Mid Tyrone group for retaining the highest percentage of their members in 2017.

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