Fermanagh Farmer Becomes President Of Ulster Grassland Society

John Egerton, from Roslea in Co. Fermanagh, is the new president of the Ulster Grassland Society (UGS). He will serve a one-year term.

He took up his new role, succeeding Colin Linton, at the recent 2024 UGS conference.

John farms with three sons, all of whom are committed to a full-time career in agriculture. Their business comprises three enterprises: a suckler herd; a lowland sheep flock; and a calf-rearing unit, managed to Blade Farming standards.

Previously, the Egertons had also contract-reared replacement heifers for neighbouring dairy farmers.

However, the growing threat of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) had severely restricted this operation. As a consequence, they switched to finishing a number of the weanlings that come through the calf-rearing unit.

The suckler herd is split equally into spring- and autumn-calving groups. The decision to push ahead with the calf-rearing business was based on the fact that the enterprise does not impact on the total land area within the business.

The plan is to develop an additional rearing unit within the foreseeable future.

John Egerton explained: “Our plan is to develop three viable farming businesses over the coming years, focusing on the land area current available to us.”

Outgoing UGS president, Colin Linton (left) hands over the chain-of-office to his successor, John Egerton

Ulster Grassland Society Conference

Courtesy of his presentation to the Ulster Grassland Society conference, Egerton highlighted the key role that agriculture will play in responding to the challenge of climate change.

He said: “Farming is not part of the problem, it is a actually a key part of the solution. And farmers must be supported accordingly.

“But environmental sustainability will only be achieved once farmers are allowed to make a living from their own businesses.

“Farmers do not want to make fortunes from their businesses. But they must be in a position where they can pay their bills and look to the future with a degree of confidence.”

Edgerton went on to highlight the role already being played by the ARCZero project in helping to deliver a sustainable future for agriculture in Northern Ireland.

He is one of seven farmers actively involved in the scheme. It was established two years ago to measure and actively manage carbon flows at the individual farm level.     

The incoming UGS president also highlighted the issues caused by bTB on a growing number of livestock farms throughout Northern Ireland.

Egerton also wants to see the issue of succession within farming families and businesses made a greater policy priority rural areas .

He specifically highlighted the specific challenges this had created within his within his own family.

(Source – Agriland – Richard Halleron – 28/01/2024)

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