Members of Stormont's Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs committee visited a farm in Co. Tyrone to see for themselves the work local farmers are doing for the environment.

Host Jessica Pollock explained how she and her family have have embraced renewable energy and new technologies on their farm.

The visit on Thursday (August 12) comes as the committee continues to scrutinise two pieces of climate change legislation making their way through Stormont and allowed members to see examples of how local farmers are embracing carbon-friendly practices.

Image source Agriculture Committee

UFU welcomes Agriculture Committee visit

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president Victor Chestnutt said: “The meeting with MLA representatives gave us the opportunity to demonstrate in person, what our farmers are doing daily to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their farm, working to combat climate change while continuing to produce high-quality food to world-leading standards.

“Major talking points during the visit included low emissions slurry spreading equipment, renewable energy technologies, fertiliser efficiencies, feed to yield systems, carbon sequestration and animal health improvements.

Jessica highlighted the great work she, like many other farmers, are doing such as implementing renewable energy technologies including solar panels and a hydro-electric turbine. Jessica has implemented a breeding programme over the past five years to produce a crossbred animal that has the advantages of each breed and is increasing carbon sequestration through planting hedges and farmland trees.

"She also discussed the ways in which she wants to develop their family farm business to benefit both the environment and consumers.

“As a young farmer, Jessica went on to highlight how her generation is the future of the farming industry in Northern Ireland and that they are already steering agriculture in a positive direction with an environmental focus at the forefront.

"She made it very clear that to ensure that the great work of farmers can continue, we need support from the government and the right legislative framework to be able to deliver the balance of high-quality food production and low carbon farming.

"It’s vital to ensure that there is a future for sustainable family farms across Northern Ireland and to protect our local food security,” said the UFU president.

'A scientific approach to farm management'

Speaking after visiting the farm in Castlederg, Agriculture Committee chairman Declan McAleer (pictured below, left) said: “It was extremely interesting to see at first-hand how the Pollock family has incorporated hydroelectric, wind, solar energy and low-emission techniques into their farm business.

Image source Agriculture Committee

“I also found it extremely interesting how the family has adopted new technologies on the farm and take a very scientific approach to grassland, business and livestock management.

We also heard at firsthand the challenges faced by the farming community - particularly in the west with fluctuating weather patterns, poor connectivity to the electricity grid and the imbalance in farm support measures with neighbouring farm businesses in Donegal.

“This was a fantastic learning opportunity where we heard directly from a young farmer at the cutting edge of the industry. We were very grateful to the UFU to the Pollock family for the hospitality we received on the farm visit.”