THE future of farming and the agri-food industry is in safe hands, judging by the impressive standard of competition at the semi-final of the ABP Angus Youth Challenge at CAFRE’s Loughry College last Friday.
Eleven teams of teenagers aged between 14 and 16 years old set out to impress the independent panel of judges by showcasing innovative approaches and creative thinking on Angus beef related themes, promoting Northern Irish beef and the contribution of the agri-food sector to the local rural economy.
Nutritional selling points of beef, the importance of grass-based beef production, the promotion of a Northern Irish Angus beef brand and the role of women in agriculture were just some of the subjects explored by the competitors as they fought it out for a place in the final of the prestigious competition.
The winners will be announced by ABP after Easter, with three teams each to be presented with five Aberdeen Angus cattle at Balmoral Show in May which they will then rear to finishing.
The teams travelled from every county in Northern Ireland, with a strong representation from both rural and urban dwellers.
Congratulating the teams on their hard work to date, Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland, George Mullan, said: “The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is about investing for the future of farming and food production in Northern Ireland through skills development of our young people.
“If the talent on display in this room today is any indicator of future success, then we have a lot to be positive about.”
Judge Michael Bell, Executive Director of NIFDA, said: “I have been hugely impressed by the enthusiasm of the semi finalists today. The projects have delivered strong learning outcomes about beef.
“Some of the female students are telling me they are inspired to get into farming because technology is making it easier. Minette Batters, the new NFU President, is their role model.”
Three finalist teams will be announced after Easter and presented with five Aberdeen Angus x calves at a high-profile public event during the 150th Balmoral Show.
They will go on to rear their calves through to sale to ABP over an 18-month skills development programme covering insights into beef production from farm to fork.
In addition, they will benefit financially from the profit at sale of the calves to ABP. One overall winning team will also win £1,000 cash prize for their school or club.
The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is organised in partnership with the Northern Irish Angus Producers Group. Judging the semi-finalists were industry experts from leading organisations across the farming and agri-food sectors.
q Elliott Bell, Senior Policy Officer, Ulster Farmers Union
q John Henning, Company Director & Angus Breeder
q Seamus McMenamin, Economist, Livestock & Meat Commission NI
q Aurelie Moralis, NI Veterinary Consultant, Zoetis UK
q Naomi Rutherford, Agrifood & Biosciences Institute
q Dr Sam Kennedy, Head of Education Services, CAFRE
q Michael Bell, Executive Director, NI Food & Drink Association
q Francis Breen, CAFRE Adviser, Better Farm Beef Challenge
q Edith Finlay, Subject Officer, CCEA NI
q Mairead Lavery, Managing Editor, Irish Country Living Magazine
q John Meade, Farm Manager
q James Speers, YFCU President
Collone YFC, Co Antrim: Ian Kennedy and James Wilson
Dromore High School, Co Down: Ben Megarry, Sarah Meeke, Lauren McMurray and Beth Guiney
Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt, Co Londonderry: Anna Doole, Kelly Stewart, Gary Thompson and Ross Fleming
Royal Grammar School, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh: James Richie, Thomas Kerr, Anna Flanagan and Aaron Flanagan
Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Co Antrim: Ethan Donnelly, Ross Campbell and Daniel Boomer
St Louis Grammar, Ballymena, Co Antrim: Conall McCafferty, Thomas O’Kane and Peter Graham
Ballyclare Secondary School, Co Antrim: Tammy McCammond, Lydia McKeister, Amy-Lee Hanvey and Hannah McCartney
Belfast Royal Academy, Co Armagh: Lorcan Convery, Laura Meeke, Hannah Hill, Charlotte Storey and Rachel Duff
Holy Trinity College, Cookstown, Co Tyrone: Kevin McClean, Martin McCrory, Mark Loughran, Dara Neeson and Jack Loughran
Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt, Co Londonderry: Joshua Overend, Rewben Bell, Daniel Barfoot, Matthew Cowan and Ryan Brown
St Patrick’s High School, Armagh, Co Armagh: Edward Gaffney, Padraig Doyle, Matthew McClelland and Gerald Gray