Minister tells young farmers they are 'leaders of tomorrow'

The Minister for Agriculture today told young farmers at an event in Cookstown that while prospects for agri-food are good they would be needed to help shape the sector's future.

Michelle McIlveen

Speaking at the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) conference, Miss McIlveen said: "There is no doubt we are in a period of uncertainty, however, I do believe that the long term prospects for our agri-food industry are good.

"You are our leaders of tomorrow and I know you will be inspired to strive to be the best that you can be and realise all your ambitions."

The second annual YCFU agri-conference, entitled Inspire is aimed at helping delegates identify opportunities as they plan the future of their own farm businesses.

The event covered all areas of the agri-business sector and addressed issues including market prospects, future support needs of the industry and the necessity to improve technical efficiency levels at farm level.

Miss McIlveen told delegates: "I recognise the contribution the YFCU makes to our rural community.

"It is a dynamic organisation which champions the needs of our young, rural people and that is why I am delighted my department continues to provide financial support. It is important to ensure that our farming industry and rural communities benefit from the skills, enterprise, confidence, values and citizenship developed by young people through the YFCU.

"Our two-year funding package enables you to offer a wider range of agri-food, educational and socio-economic activities, as well as encouraging involvement and commitment to education and training."

On the issue of Land Mobility, the Minister added: "It is clear that we have an ageing farming population and a large proportion of our farming businesses have not identified a successor. This is a highly emotive and personal issue for many. I met with your President and representatives from the UFU to discuss progression of the Land Mobility Scheme. I am very supportive of this initiative and we are currently exploring the options that may be available to my department that could support the implementation of the scheme."