Day one of this year’s Balmoral Show was marked by the launch of the Pedigree Cattle Trust, a new body which will represent the interests of Northern Ireland’s 2,500 pedigree cattle breeders.

Limousin breeder and Portadown-based solicitor Brian Walker spoke on behalf of the new body.

He said that the trust will seek to form partnerships with all of the key decision-making groups within the livestock sectors in order to forward the aspirations of all pedigree cattle breeders.

“Our aim is to work with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), local government agencies, vets, meat processers, retailers and political representatives.

“We will also represent the interests of all pedigree breeders where issues such as disease control, animal identification, cattle movements, genomics and Brexit are concerned," he said.

Walker added that the trust will seek to forge a close working relationship with DAERA, specifically where TB eradication is concerned.

“This is a critically important issue moving forward. The approach taken by the department on the matter up to now must adjust to changing circumstances.

“We also want to see changes to the cattle traceability and identification systems put in place. There is tremendous scope to use new technologies in order to forward these objectives.  But it’s all about partnership," he said.

Walker confirmed that the new body has a close working relationship with the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

Our aim is to assist the union in forwarding its objectives for agriculture in Northern Ireland.

The Pedigree Cattle Trust has yet to adopt a formal constitution.

“This matter will be addressed over the coming weeks, courtesy of meetings we intend holding with breeders the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.

“We will be asking each individual breeder to pay a small membership fee. There will be no clash between what the trust sets out to do and the specific aspirations of individual cattle breed clubs and societies," Walker said.