UFU to host North American and European Union Agricultural Conference

Saturday, 10 October, 2015

Plans are underway for the 37th biennial North American and European Union Agricultural Conference on the 22nd-23rd October 2015. This is the first time this prestigious congress will have been held in Northern Ireland and indeed on the island of Ireland. The conference brings together policy makers at ministerial/government level, farming organisations/unions and co-operatives from across Europe, Canada, Mexico and the USA.  The aim is to exchange experiences and sum up the benefits of a common trade policy, alongside other issues such as sustainability, collaboration and the food supply chain from farm to fork.

The conference is being hosted in partnership with COPA-COGECA the representative body for the European agricultural sector.  Membership includes farm lobby organisation and agricultural co-operatives from across the European Union, and the UFU is a long time member, with its former president, Harry Sinclair, just having finished a term as a COPA-COGECA vice president.  The organisation represents almost 80 organisations across Europe, which in turn represent millions of farmers and farm businesses.

On the 21st October the UFU will welcome congress delegates to Northern Ireland with a "Taste of Northern Ireland" reception at the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick. Alongside the NA/EU Congress the UFU has organised an agricultural tour programme which will visit two of Northern Ireland’s award winning farms - Sam Chesney’s highly productive beef farm and Thomas Steele’s dairy farm.  UFU have also arranged for conference delegates and accompanying partners to explore Belfast City and Northern Ireland over the three day period. 

“It is fantastic achievement for the UFU and Northern Ireland to secure this internationally recognised and high profile event as it gives us an opportunity to showcase our agriculture industry on a global stage,” said UFU president Ian Marshall. “The interests of Northern Ireland’s farmers are already well represented in Europe and although we will be one of the smallest regions participating the profile and exposure as a food producing region and as a tourist destination that will come with hosting this conference will be immense,” he said.

It would not have been possible to bring this conference to Northern Ireland without the considerable support and financial commitment from our partners and sponsors.  These include Moy Park; the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; NFU Mutual; Fane Valley; John Deere; Devenish Nutrition; Irish Farmers’ Journal; Zoetis; and Visit Belfast.

Quotation “...opportunity to share challenges and to showcase our innovation”

 Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill said:  “I am delighted that my Department is able to support this prestigious  international Congress. I know that this congress will provide a  valuable opportunity for many of the top agricultural policy makers  from Europe and North America to share the challenges that face  farmers on both sides of the Atlantic. It will allow us to showcase the  innovation and high standards of agricultural production, underpinned  by sound scientific research and world class traceability as well as the high quality, safe and wholesome food produced by the Agri-food sector here on a national and international platform. It will also be an excellent international platform for promoting our Year of Food and Drink 2016”.


Quotation “...innovation drives business and this is an opportunity to explore how to grow our agri-food sector”

 Alan Gibson, UK and Ireland Director, Moy Park said: “The theme of this  year’s North American - European Union Agricultural Policy Congress is  ‘Making Agriculture a Success.’ As a committed local agri-food company,  we recognise how important innovation is in driving business forward –  from farming and agriculture, through our operations, to our innovations  and product development. As such, we at Moy Park are delighted to be  able to support this high profile international event as a platform for exploring how we can continue to grow our world class agri-food sector. The fact that such a prestigious global event is being held here in Northern Ireland gives us a tremendous opportunity to showcase our local expertise, and to build lasting relationships and friendships which we can build upon to further our local industry and to enable us to compete more effectively in the global market.”



Quotation   “...scientifically proven solutions drive performance”

 Patrick McLaughlin, CEO Devenish UK and Ireland said:  “Devenish are delighted to have been able to support the UFU  and sponsor Copa Cogeca’s first conference on the island of  Ireland. Devenish are at the forefront of agricultural innovation  internationally, with our Group headquarters in Belfast and our  US headquarters in Minnesota. It is from these and our other  facilities that we deliver scientifically proven solutions that drive performance, profitability and sustainability for our farming customers. This conference gives us an opportunity to meet key players and bodies in the industry, and keep informed of the policy debates and decisions that have the ability to have a considerable impact on our customers on both side of the Atlantic.”


Quotation “...globally the cooperative model has continued to thrive despite many challenges”

 Trevor Lockhart, Chief Executive of Fane Valley said: "The co-  operative business model is well proven in agriculture internationally.  It has continued to thrive in the face of the many challenges to  confront the industry. As Northern Ireland's largest agricultural co-  operative, Fane Valley is delighted to support the 37th North  American and European Union Conference. A growing world  population presents Northern Ireland and global agriculture with many  opportunities. It is important however that the right policy framework  is in place to facilitate the development of the sector including arrangements to govern international trade. The conference programme will provide an invaluable opportunity for delegates to consider these crucial issues. The event also provides a wonderful opportunity to promote the quality, safety and sustainability of Northern Ireland food and to promote our ambitions for growing international trade and extending our global reach. We trust it will be a great success."


Quotation “.....a better alignment between EU and US farm policies should be sought”

 Gilles Dryancour, Director of Public Affairs - Europe at John Deere GmbH &  Co. KG said: “The North America and European Union Agricultural Policy  Congress will address critical issues for the two core historical markets of our  company. Discussions are ongoing between the EU and US towards a robust  ‘TTIP’ trade deal, and therefore better alignment between the US and EU farm  policies should be sought. North American and European farmers should  benefit from the best agricultural policy tools available, so that their holdings  remain competitive, sustainable and attractive for the next generations. The  Congress will clearly support high-level discussions on these three key-challenges for the future of agriculture, and John Deere is honoured to sponsor this important event.”



Quotation “...part of the fabric of farming and at the heart of rural communities”

 Martin Malone, NFU Mutual Regional Director for Northern Ireland said:  “NFU Mutual, Northern Ireland’s leading farm insurer, is delighted to be  supporting the North American European Union Agricultural Conference.  Part of the fabric of farming in Northern Ireland for more than 80 years,  we’re a mutual insurer at the heart of rural communities.  As well as  providing insurance for over two thirds of Northern Ireland’s farmers we  provide financial and practical support to help farming families live and  work safely. With low farm gate prices making conditions very tough for farmers the conference presents great opportunities to help open new markets for Northern Ireland’s fine food products.” 




Quotation   “...animal medicines are the key to feeding a growing world population”

 Clint Lewis, Executive Vice President and President of International  Operations at Zoetis said: The world population will reach 9 billion  people by 2050. According to OIE, without animal health medicines,  we would need almost twice as much cattle to produce the same  amount of milk and beef. As global leader in the animal health  industry, Zoetis is committed to helping farmers meet the challenges  of tomorrow through innovative products and solutions that will not  only improve animal and human health, but also have major benefits  for the agricultural sector in Northern America and in Europe. With a presence in more than 120 markets worldwide, the 10,000 Zoetis colleagues discover, develop, manufacture and commercialize a diverse portfolio of animal health medicines, diagnostics and vaccines designed to meet the needs of veterinarians and farmers. Zoetis. For animals. For health. For you.


Quotation “....Congress worth almost a quarter of a million to local economy”

 Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast said: The importance  of winning international conference business and events to Belfast  and its impact on Northern Ireland’s economy cannot be overstated.  Supported by Belfast City Council and Tourism Northern Ireland  through the conference subvention scheme The EU/North America  Agricultural Policy Congress will welcome 320 delegates from across  the World to Northern Ireland, generating an estimated £247,000 to  the city. Conferences, exhibitions, incentive travel and corporate  hospitality already accounts for significant share of total inbound  tourism to Belfast and Northern Ireland and they are key in Visit  Belfast’s mission to drive not only visitor numbers but vital tourism spend over the years ahead.