GRAIN traders and feed merchants from across Northern Ireland are pulling on the lycra and getting on their bikes to support farm charities as part of a UK wide cycle relay.
The itinerary for this epic 3,700 mile marathon will take in the principal feed mills, ports, grain stores and supply trade business sites in the UK.
All the regional Grain and Feed Trade Associations have come together to support the farming industry through the Farming Community Network (FCN) with all funds raised in Northern Ireland going to assist with the work of charity Rural Support NI.
Charles Delf of the Bristol Corn and Feed Trade is among those who helped organise this mammoth event.
He says the aim of the challenge is to help raise greater awareness about the issues facing farmers and how these can affect their physical and mental wellbeing.
“Supply businesses play an integral part in the farming community and we see at first hand the pressures that many farmers face,” he explained.
“The stress caused by economic and regulatory pressures, the sense of isolation and anxiety can affect both the farm business and the farm household.
“The aim of the relay is to help increase awareness of the issues facing farmers, while at the same time raising funds to provide on-going support for all members of the farming community and their families.”
He continued: “With farming facing deep uncertainty in the coming years, the workload of the support networks is expected to increase significantly.
“These charities depend on donations and grants in order to support the farming community and our hope is that we can raise a significant sum while also having some fun along the way.”
The relay is already under way, having started outside the Houses of Parliament in London on June 20 and will visit over 170 different sites representing 75 companies before crossing the finishing line at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire on July 31.
The Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association has been closely involved in the planning of the event and chief executive Robin Irvine is encouraging everyone to get behind the initiative and support the riders.
“All the riders are willing volunteers and include mill staff, drivers, sales staff, advisors and chief executives and so will be well known to the farming community and are determined to help put something back into the industry,” Mr Irvine said
“In addition to rider sponsorship, many companies are also planning fund raising events. We hope as many people in the industry as possible will turn out to support the relay and help us achieve our target.”
q The cycle moves into Northern Ireland on July 17 visiting businesses in Belfast and across counties Antrim, Armagh and Tyrone up to July 20.
Riders from at least 14 companies will be saddling up and visiting 14 sites, covering over 240 miles.
Companies supporting the relay in Northern Ireland include Tolland’s, Devenish Nutrition, United Molasses, United Feeds, W&R Barnett, Thompsons, Cefetra, Tullyherron Feeds, Gortavoy Feeds, Fane Valley, Moy Park, AB Vista, Chestnutt’s and Agri-Research.