More than 50 teenagers from across Northern Ireland will be showcasing their beef production knowledge at the ABP Angus Youth Challenge Semi-Final event today at CAFRE’s Loughry campus.

A total of 13 teams have been shortlisted to compete in front of an independent panel of industry experts. They will present their innovative approaches and creative thinking on Angus beef-related themes and the promotion of ABP beef products.

To reach the semi-final stage, the teams had to produce a video and then attend a panel interview. They will now have to convince the judges about their knowledge and interest in beef production and working in the sector.

Commenting on the forthcoming event, George Mullan, managing director of ABP in Northern Ireland said: “The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is about looking to the future of Northern Ireland’s meat production industry.

"As a leading employer in the sector, that also does business with around 5,000 farm families, the competition gives us an opportunity to connect with young people at the stage of their education when they are making career-path choices.”

“There will be a mix of girls and boys competing from rural and urban backgrounds, aged from 14 to 16 years old. A key point about the competition is that you don’t have to live on a farm to take part. Common to all the semi-finalists is an interest in working in the sector,” added Mullan.

The judging panel is made up of representatives of the agri-food; education and community sectors.

The schools that make it through to the final stage will then be presented with five Aberdeen Angus cross calves at an event on May 17 at Balmoral Show.

They will then go on to rear their calves, profiting from their sale to ABP over an 18-month skills development programme that will cover insights into beef production from farm-to-fork. One overall winning team will then win a further £1,000 cash prize for their school.

The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is organised in partnership with the Northern Irish Angus Producer Group.

General manager, Charles Smith added: “The success of the first year of the ABP Youth Challenge has created a real buzz with the NI schools’ community.

"We are delighted to have participants from every county at Loughry this year. The standard of entries was very high. They should all be very proud to have reached this far.”