With the grain harvest now almost wrapped up, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is encouraging all farmers to support each other and ‘buy local’.

This is particularly so, where the purchase and use of locally grown crops is concerned.

UFU seeds and cereals chairman, Mark McCollum said: “Harvest is coming to an end now and this year has been one of many challenges, from the rising cost of energy and fertiliser to extreme weather conditions.

“However, as always, our farmers have risen to the challenge producing quality assured grain and proteins for the market.

“Now they need the support of everyone in the agricultural industry, farmers and millers, as well as consumers, to buy local and help sustain the arable sector through the winter months that lie ahead.”

He explained that there is a demand from consumers to know the origins of products and purchasing local Farm Quality Assured grain strengthens the appeal of a local product.

‘Buy local’

Northern Ireland’s arable farmers produce grain to the highest standards, and it is fully traceable, two key aspects which are needed to secure consumer confidence in a product, according to the UFU.

The association added that buying local grain has benefits for everyone in the food chain.

“There is also plenty of good quality straw available this year and we encourage our livestock farmers to enquire about what is on their doorstep before importing,” McCollum added.

He went on to point out that plant protection products are used by tillage farmers to support the production of high-quality safe grains and proteins for the food chain, but only when absolutely necessary.

Where the crop is being produced is a big factor. Growing grain in north Derry is completely different to producing it in south Armagh, so a variety of choices are available to suit all regions,” he said.

According to the UFU, communication is key for any industry and can help increase support for local production.

“Within the farming industry, we need to improve our communication with each other,” McCollum continued.

“A simple chat can make all the difference to the supply chain as we often discover there is so much on offer at home than we first assumed.

“Keeping everything as local as possible makes the food production process more efficient and sustainable, will shorten the farm-to-fork journey, as well as strengthening our local food security having a knock-on effect on the rural economy.”