THE annual meeting of Fermanagh Grassland Club has taken place in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen, to elect new office-bearers for 2020.
The election of officers was conducted by the guest speaker, Dr Sinclair Mayne, retired chief executive of AFBI.
The new office-bearers team are:
Chairman – David Foster, a beef and sheep farmer from Knockninny, Derrylin;
Vice-Chairman – Nigel Graham, a dairy farmer from Kinawley;
Secretary – William Johnston;
Treasurer – Philip Clarke.
Committee – Alan Burleigh, Robin Clements, Trevor Dunn, John Egerton, James Murphy and Alan Warnock.
William Johnston presented the Secretary’s Report and outlined the speakers over the previous year as well as farm visits.
The outgoing Chairman, Michael McCaughey and Treasurer, Philip Clarke also presented their reports.
Dr Mayne, spoke on the theme: “Food and Farming – Positioning Ourselves to Tackle the Challenges Ahead.”
He said the challenges farmers face include the prospects of low food prices, climate change and environmental concerns, the ability to attract the best people into farming and keeping pace with technological advances.
He illustrated how the proportion of people’s incomes spent on food had reduced considerably over the years. In 1963, it was 22 per cent of income, but in 2017, it was just 10 per cent.
He said consumers were now conditioned to low prices because of CAP but said the agricultural industry would need to inform consumers better.
He also illustrated how climatic changes in the future could see more productive farmland in the northern hemisphere and less in the southern hemisphere. He said this could result in more people moving to areas where there is food.
He said that options to reduce emissions included modifying slurry storage and spreading, offering lower protein diets, using urea with stabilisers and improving genetics.
Looking to the future, Dr Mayne said the challenges they faced in having a leading agricultural industry was to attract the best people in farming and keeping pace with technological change. Overall, he said that the big challenge by 2030 was to increase food production by 50 per cent on less land using less water and using less energy.
He said one change that was needed was to improve grassland management.