Investment in new beef facilities at both AFBI (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute) and CAFRE (College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise) is vital to ensure that the Northern beef industry is competitive post-Brexit, according to Ulster Famers’ Union (UFU) Beef and Lamb Policy Chair, Crosby Cleland.

“The beef sector is a major contributor to our local economy and it is crucial that we ensure it remains one of the key pillars of our agri-food industry,” he said.

Post-Brexit it is even more important that we support this sector so that it can deal with the challenges it will undoubtedly face in the future.

Cleland stated that improving the profitability and competitiveness of beef farms continues to be a key objective, as well as tackling issues relating to animal health, climate change and reducing antibiotic usage.

In order to deal with these challenges we need local research and a slick service for transferring practical solutions down to a farm level.

“High-quality beef facilities must be constructed to replace the existing ones at AFBI and CAFRE which are out of date,” he added.

The UFU welcomed the investment in the sheep facilities at CAFRE’s Glenwherry farm and now calls on DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs) to commit funding to serious infrastructure projects for beef as well.

DAERA invested £825,000 (€921,666) in a new sheep housing and handling facility at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus, located at Glenwherry, last year. Cutting-edge features of the investment include handling facilities, modern flooring, a curved race, footbaths and equipment to identify, weigh and draft animals.

“The Progressive Beef Production conference held back in November highlighted that there is a real appetite for innovation in the sector. We must build on this enthusiasm by putting the tools in place to deliver the research and knowledge transfer the sector requires to drive it forward,” Cleland concluded.