Ulster Farmers’ Union president Mr William Fullerton, joined Sir Richard Butler, NFU president, in welcoming the new organisation.
Mr Adam Butler stressed the importance to Northern Ireland of the proposed new organisation which was to cover the agriculture, horticulture and food industries of the whole of the United Kingdom and he expressed the hope that Northern Ireland interests would play their part in making it a success.
The new body, which was to replace the Central Council for Agricultural and Horticultural Cooperation, was to continue to promote co-operation, but at the same time it was to have wider powers to enable it to co-ordinate, and promote marketing initiatives at home and abroad.
It was to be controlled by a small council of acknowledged leaders who had expertise in production, co-operation, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and exporting.
Council members were to be appointed by ministers to reflect the regional interests of all parts of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.
The chairman of Food From Britain was to be Mr Nicholas Saphir, the chairman of the CCAHC, and Mr Joe Patton, from Ballymoney was to be a member of the council. Mr Patton was a dairy farmer and the former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union. He was also a director of Ballymoney Foods Ltd and a member of the Milk Marketing Board for Northern Ireland.
£20 MILLION FUNDS
With up to £20 million available over a five year period, beginning 1983/4, the announcement made it clear that Food From Britain would provide a much needed stimulus to enable Northern Ireland producers and firms alike to expand and develop markets.
Mr Nicholas Saphir said: “This development is essential. However effective and dynamic we may be individually, we need a national effort to compete with the French, Dutch, and Danes.”
He pointed out that the initial appointments to ensure an orderly transition from the present work being done by central council to that of its new role.
The important work with co-operatives was to be continued and ensure that cooperatives and their members were at the forefront of marketing initiatives.
“In addition we will be working very closely with food manufacturers and distributors,” Mr Saphir said. “Through the product marketing campaign, CCAHC has enabled producers to make advances in marketing their produce more effectively and efficiently. Food From Britain will continue and expand these activities to ensure that British produce is a force to be reckoned with both home and overseas.”
WELCOME BY UFU
“Wholehearted welcome,” was the response of the president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, Mr William Fullerton, to the setting up of the new marketing body.
Mr Fullerton said that so far the new body had broad terms of reference.
He remarked: “The policy and method of operation very properly has been left to the new council. The effectiveness will depend on the quality of leadership and management developed by the council.”
He added: “The potential advantage is enormous but it will depend not only on the council but on a positive constructive attitude from those involved in marketing the produce of our farms.”
Mr Fullerton said he approved of the proposal that government would assist with funding the new enterprise for five years which he said was “a reasonable period for it to find its feet”.