Armagh Show: DUP ‘will get best Brexit deal possible for NI farmers’

Jonny and Sophie Hazelton from Dungannon with their Simmental champion at Saturdays Armagh show
Jonny and Sophie Hazelton from Dungannon with their Simmental champion at Saturdays Armagh show

DUP MLA William Irwin has confirmed that his party will act to secure the best Brexit deal possible for farmers in Northern Ireland, courtesy of the ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement that will be reached with the Conservative Party at Westminster over the coming days.

“Two of our priorities will be to ensure the continuation of direct payments for farmers and the maintenance of a seamless border on the island of Ireland, from a trading point of view. This will entail trade in both directions.”

Mr Irwin made these remarks while attending Saturrday’s Armagh Show.

He added: “As a party, we are committed to securing the future growth of farming and food in Northern Ireland.”

Meanwhile, the members of Armagh County Agricultural Society (ACAS) can take great satisfaction from the changes made to this year’s show, on the back of the tremendous crowds that attended the 2017 celebration of farming and food, held in Gosford Forest Park.

“The agreement allowed us to increase the footprint of this year’s show by 50%,” confirmed ACAS chairman Stephen Hamilton.

“This was in line with the growing exhibitor demand for space; the need to provide the general public with more room and to ensure that all relevant health and safety criteria are exceeded.

“All of our new trafficking and parking arrangements worked without a hitch, all of which bodes well for the future.”

Armagh Show 2017 was marked by a record entry of livestock. The Dairy Inter-Breed Championship was won by Philip and Simon Haffey, from Portadown, with their third calver Berryholme G Jordan Flo. She calved last October and is projected to produce 14,000 litres in her current lactation.

“I bought her, unseen, as a calf,” said Mr Haffey. “The mother is a daughter of the renowned Holstein bull Shottle. She was classified Excellent 95, which is as high a ranking as can be awarded to any cow.”

The Dairy Inter-Breed judge, Jonny Lochhead, from Dumfries in Scotland, described his champion as an excellent example of the Holstein breed.

“She has tremendous power and an excellent mammary system, particularly given the fact that she has already given birth to three calves.”

The Beef Inter-Breed Championship was awarded to the Matchett family with their three year-old Charolais cow Tawny Jasmine.

Judge Robin Boyd described the cow as a breeding animal with tremendous potential.

“What swung it for me was the fact that she had such a high quality calf at foot. After all, a cow is supposed to be a breeding animal. And the Charolais has proven that she can meet this all-important requirement.”

The Sheep Inter-Breed Championship was won by Matthew Burleigh, from Kinawley in Co Fermanagh, with his eye-catching Beltex ewe.

“This is her first outing of the year,” she said.

“She lambed down for the first time back in the spring. Previously, the animal had acquitted herself extremely well, both as a ewe lamb and a hogget. She won the Beltex Championship at Balmoral last year and now continues to show tremendous promise as a breeding ewe.”