Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has visited two farm businesses near Crossgar in County Down to see how their innovative approach is helping the farming industry, as well as the local community.
Mr Poots first visited Brian Hamilton’s Rock House Farm, which has diversified into providing on-farm vending of pasteurised milk directly to customers using refillable glass bottles.
As well as these efforts to reduce plastic use, this farm family is trying to reduce its overall environmental impact with a grass fed herd and reduced herd numbers.
Welcoming the farm’s innovative approach to marketing, Mr Poots said: “I am delighted to see a local farm promoting its products directly to customers.
“This system reduces resources as well as unnecessary waste and food-miles.”
The Minister continued: “I am encouraged by the excellent work they are doing in moving people away from single-use plastic by showing them a better, refillable way.
“I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Rock House Farm to farm sustainably.
“Sustainability has to be the future goal for the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland and I welcome the efforts and work of the Hamilton family, and others, in this area.”
Mr Poots then visited nearby HVS Animal Health, a long-standing distributor of a wide range of international animal health products and feed supplements managed by David and Paul Elwood.
Mr Poots said: “As Agriculture Minister, I am fully supportive of the need for high standards of animal welfare and the promotion of health and performance through the provision of properly balanced rations, and the treatment or prevention
of disease based on sound scientific principles.
“I welcome the key role suppliers such as HVS play in working with vets, nutritionists and others, supporting the livestock industry and adding to the prosperity of the rural community.”
During the visits, Mr Poots also took the opportunity to remind herd owners and others in Northern Ireland to have their say on his department’s proposals for a new bovine tuberculosis eradication strategy, saying: “My department’s proposed strategy, which is currently out for consultation, is intended to address all of the factors which contribute to the spread of this costly disease.
“In order to assist me in making final decisions I would encourage the farming industry, stakeholders and the wider public to have their say by responding to the consultation before 10 September.”