Bygone Days: Welcome for new drive to improve exports from across UK

A new food marketing organisation, Food From Britain, was expected to provide a much needed stimulus to enable Northern Ireland producers and firms alike to expand and develop markets in Britain, Europe and throughout the world, reported Farming Life during this week in 1982.

By Darryl Armitage
Saturday, 11th June 2022, 12:00 pm

That was how Mr Adam Butler, minister in charge of agriculture in Northern Ireland, welcomed the announcement by UK Minister of Agriculture, Mr Peter Walker.

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.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Greenmount Old Boys reunion May 1982: One of the features of the Greenmount Association’s 50th anniversary celebrations was a reunion for founder members at the college. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives

WIDER POWERS

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.

Greenmount Old Boys reunion May 1982: One of the features of the Greenmount Association’s 50th anniversary celebrations was a reunion for founder members at the college. Mr Matt Boyd, principal, and Andrew Hunter, college farm manager, with members of the staff. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives

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.”

Greenmount Old Boys reunion May 1982: One of the features of the Greenmount Association’s 50th anniversary celebrations was a reunion for founder members at the college. Mr Matt Boyd, centre, principal, with Mr James Gardiner and Alex Irwin. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives

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

Cheques for Riding for the Disabled Association in May 1982, Mrs Angela Wilson, Ballymena, chairman of the Northern Ireland region of the association, receiving from RUAS president, Mr Alan Anderson, a cheque for £1,200, proceeds of show cheese and butter auctions. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives

“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”.

Mr Alan Anderson, centre, president of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, and Bill Yarr, chief executive, and Lord O’Neill had reason to smile during a stroll of the Balmoral Showgrounds in May 1982 as they lawns were in excellent condition. Picture: Farming Life/News Letter archives