Farming TV series captures highs and lows

Jason and Adam Kelly, Goat farmers from Saintfield who will feature in the new series of Rare Breeds.
Jason and Adam Kelly, Goat farmers from Saintfield who will feature in the new series of Rare Breeds.

The spotlight will be shone on the highs and lows of one of the most challenging years in farming when the UTV programme Rare Breeds – A Farming Year returns to our screens on Monday night.

Following on from the success of the first series in 2012, thousands of viewers are expected to tune in to follow the fortunes of 17 farming families, representing every county in Northern Ireland.

At a special screening of the first episode yesterday at Havelock House, Michael Wilson, managing director, UTV said the first series had surpassed all expectations, even beating the viewing figures for EastEnders to become one of the most watched regional programmes.

He said the new 12-part series will show all the challenges of 2013, which had some of the worst snowstorms in recent years followed by one of the best summers.

“This new series will show both the best and the worst of what mother nature can do to your industry,” he added.

Thanking everyone involved in the new series, producer Veronica Cunningham said filming had opened her eyes to the agri-food industry and had changed the way she shops and eats.

“It has opened my eyes to the industry and what an important and vital one it is,” she added.

“I would like to thank all the farmers for their openness and for allowing us to capture the highs and lows. This was a very, very interesting year to film. It was a year of two halves with the weather and it was fascinating to capture how our farmers react to that and how they move their businesses forward.”

Monday night’s episode features six of the participating farming families, including UFU presidentand Draperstown farmer Harry Sinclair.

The camera crew visited the Bell farm at Kells on a regular basis and Monday night’s programme will show that it is a real family affair with Roger and Hilary, and children Emma and Scott all ‘mucking in’ when required.

“The camera crew visited us every month and spent two or three days on the farm at a time,” explained Roger.

“It was quite an experience because you were more or less wearing your heart on your sleeve at times.”

The programme will show the challenges of the difficult conditions in March when the Bells were snowed in for five or six days.

“We were able to see some of the clips filmed during the snow and while it looks lovely and bright in the programme it was very cold and conditions were difficult,” added Hilary.

Monday night’s programme will include UFU president Harry Sinclair, from Draperstown, Drew McConnell, Omagh (dairy), Richard Kane, Limavady (arable), Jason Kelly, Saintfield (goats), the Wilson family (beef), Fermanagh, John Tate, Moira (pigs) and the Bell family, Kells (sheep and poultry).