UFU Arable & Horticulture Up-date

Monday, 16 April, 2018

Article - UFU Arable & Horticulture Up-date, written by Patricia Erwin UFU Senior Policy Officer for Arable & Horticulture

Whilst the spring weather has brought many additional challenges for arable and horticulture producers our UFU committee members continue to work effortlessly driving forward opportunities monitoring and shaping future policy on challenges ahead. 

NI Farm Quality Assured Cereal Scheme (NIFQACS) joint scheme owners Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) and Northern Ireland Grain Trade Associate (NIGTA) confirm the revised standard now meets the UK Rodenticide Stewardship Regime for 2018. 

The benefit for scheme members means that by presenting their membership document at sales outlets as proof of competence will continue to be able to purchase stewardship-label professional rodenticides.

The audit standard has been verified for compliance with stewardship conditions and the CRRU UK Code of Best Practice, which broadly require a systematic approach to rodent pest control, with documentation and regular independent audit procedures.

For those famers who sit outside the approved NIFQACS scheme they will have the following three rodenticide use options: 1) Take an approved training course and show the certificate when purchasing rodenticide. 2) Employ a certified professional pest controller. 3) Use rodenticide products authorised for amateur use. *thinkwildlife.org/list-of-training-and-certification/

The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use UK reports to HSE and other Government Departments on rodenticide stewardship implementation. CRRU chairman Dr Alan Buckle says this combination of farm assurance and point-of-sale control helps ensure the entire supply chain is correctly implementing stewardship measures.

The new NIFQACS standards criteria has now been issued to all scheme members and will be operational from 1 June 2018.

Crop Diversification Rule - UFU seek a derogation and relaxation on the three crop rule for 2018.  Urgent discussion on the matter have been held with DAERA Officials and more recently UFU President Barclay Bell has written to Commissioner Phil Hoggan.  Arable farmers experienced one of the wettest latest autumns for harvest in 2017 which impacted on limited opportunity to also plant and establish winter crops in 2017.    This challenge for most has been further compounded by our now very wet and late spring. 

It is the view of the UFU that the window of opportunity to plant and establish spring crops no longer exists.  The cropping options available to meet scheme rules would in our opinion be economically unviable pushing farmers in the direction of another possible very late ripening crop and even later harvesting window.   This late cropping would prove to be uneconomically viable and detrimental to the future of our local specialist arable producers.  

In our opinion the UFU fear that many farmers will be unable to meet their crop diversification rule requirements as a direct knock on effect from our exceptionally bad weather and high levels of persistent rainfall.  The UFU await a response from Commissioner Hogan on this matter. 

UFU meet AFBI on arable research proposal:  UFU Seeds & Cereals Chairman is driving forward an arable research proposal with AFBI researchers.   Work is progressing on shaping the research proposal methodology.  Full details of the research proposal will be  available soon. 

AHDB Monitor Farm:  

UFU for many years have lobbied AHDB asking that NI to be included as a region giving opportunity to be part of the AHDB Monitor Farm portfolio.   Robert Moore a past UFU Seeds & Cereals Chairman and currently   AHDB Research and Knowledge Exchange Advisory Committee member welcomes the launch of the Northern Ireland Monitor farm on 19th June 2018 at Richard Orrs farm Downpatrick.  Robert said “the Monitor Farm Programme has been running very successfully in GB for the last few years. It is a proven model and works because it is driven by farmers and involve farmers in the decision making process. The whole process is fully supported by specialist AHDB staff who have access to a huge bank of information, research and specialist advice. It is likely to be particularly beneficial as we move towards the development of a new Agricultural Policy outside the EU. I urge all forward thinking arable farmers to support our first Monitor Farmer and make the Programme a success in N Ireland."   Launch details will follow. 

UFU Meet ASDA: UFU Potato Chairman Robert Sibbett has held constructive and informative potato supply chain talks with ASDA and International Procurement & Logistics Limited (IPL) representatives.  This meeting gave great opportunity to learn about the new IPL model supplying potatoes into ASDA retail.   Looking ahead both opportunities and challenges were discussed and with a clear signal that potential growth to grow the potato category within N Ireland ASDA stores existed was most positive. 

The Mighty Spud campaign enters its last phase.  800 leaflets have been issued to schools titled ‘Potatoes in the Classroom’ The Mighty not Humble campaign has been funded by our local industry to remind consumers and particularly young people of what nutritious, versatile, tasty and low cost food the potato provides. The leaflet contains key messages while providing some history on the arrival of the potato from South America and a simple task to allow children to grow potatoes in the Classroom. 

Mighty Spud is attending RUAS 2018 on stand HH18 Healthy Horticulture zone in the N I Horticulture Marquee.

Vegetable Update:   UFU Vegetable growers have produced two videos promoting the growing and harvesting of Local vegetables.   These producer videos can be viewed on the UFU website or pick up the following links: 

https://www.ufuni.org/blog/ni-vegetable-farmers-harvest  and https://www.ufuni.org/blog/ni-vegetable-farmers-planting

The UFU leadership team and Vegetable Chairman Adrian McaGowan are currently doing a round of meetings with both local independent and national retail outlets.   The UFU are keen to engage and better understand the integrity and dynamic relationships along functional supply chains for local produce.  

Committee are also progressing plans for our UFU vegetable growers to play their part in promoting local quality produce at RUAS Balmoral 2018 (stand HH18) as part of the exhibit in the Healthy Horticulture Zone in association with the Northern Ireland Horticultural Forum.

NI Water Catchment Partnership representatives will also be in attendance at the RUAS 2018 in the Government Building.  Visit us in the NI Government Department’s Stand, in the Eikon Exhibition Centre (Shopping Village) and explore the best technology for rush control.