The successful EIT 'Focus on Farmers' Virtual Farm Walk and Discussion Series will come to a conclusion on Monday 14th December at 8pm with a with a “Christmas Special” webinar entitled “Productivity: the silver bullet to net zero carbon”.
The main speaker on the evening will be Sir Peter Kendall. Peter has been leading the productivity working group of the Food and Drink Sector Council will outline the importance of improving agricultural productivity for economic, social and environmental reasons and the steps he has been taking to improve productivity on his own farm.
Stuart Roberts (Deputy President NFU) will then speak on the implementation of the agricultural productivity strategy in GB and how this links up with the new Agricultural Act recently enacted by Parliament.
Nick Whelan (CEO Dale Farm & Northern Ireland representative on the Food & Drink Sector Council) will speak on the challenges and opportunities of improving agricultural productivity in the dairy sector and on implementing the agricultural productivity strategy in Northern Ireland.
The farmers ambassadors for this project, Sam Chesney from County Down and James Evans from Shropshire will also discuss what they are doing on their farms to improve productivity.
To conclude the event a panel Q&A and discussion session will take place chaired by Jonathan Birnie. UFU President Victor Chestnutt will be joining the panel discussion.
Clickto watch the recorded event.
The previous event held on Monday 19th October focused on the eating quality of beef and approaches to measuring quality.
Regular farmer ambassador James Evans, Shropshire, opened the evening discussing his thoughts on the current beef grading systems and the differences he has found between producing beef for a speciality butcher and large processors.
The main speaker was Professor Nigel Scollan, Director for the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast who gave a talk entitled “Lost on the journey – does eating quality of beef matter?”. In a poll of the evening’s attendees the majority agreed that the industry needs to be able to measure beef eating quality and reward accordingly and it was on this topic that his talk focused. Using examples of grading systems in Australia and outcomes of eating quality research conducted in Wales he clearly demonstrated that there is room for change to meet consumer needs and strengthen beef’s share in the marketplace. Consumers are willing to pay premiums for consistently high product but going forward the industry cannot rely on cut or cattle type to determine eating quality – change is required.
Sam Chesney, Co. Down, was the final speaker of the evening picking up on the points raised in Nigel’s talk and speaking of the practical decisions on farm that can make a difference to Eating Quality such as breed, genetics and stress. This was followed by a short Q&A session with all three speakers addressing the questions of the attendees.
The event was attended by over 240 participants, a record for the series, which in total has seen 449 unique viewers attend one or more event with well over 1,100 catch-up views on the AgriSearch YouTube channel.
Throughout the series a recurring theme has been that regardless of your farm size or farming system the challenges being faced across the beef industry are the same. This has particularly been highlighted through the experiences shared by farmer ambassadors James Evans and Sam Chesney across the topics of the event series. One is based in England running a large, extensive organic beef business, the other in Northern Ireland running a smaller, more intensive commercially focused beef business, but regardless, their objectives are the same - to produce quality beef, efficiently and sustainably to deliver the needs of the consumer and maintain the industry going forward.