Prince William visited our local agricultural college

As I write Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton have visited Northern Ireland for the first time.

We were delighted to hear one of the stops on their tour was our local agriculture college, Greenmount. It was great to see them there and this will undoubtedly raise the profile of the agrifood industry. It would be amiss of me not to wish them all the best on behalf of NI agriculture for their forthcoming marriage and life together.

It never ceases to amaze me at this time of the year the difference a dry fortnight can make. It’s a relief to get most of the pure bred Texel ewes out to the field, sheep are one species that do better outside no matter how well they’re looked after inside. As an old farmer used to tell me “Dr Green” was better than any vet in the spring time.

The last couple of days have seen us pumping slurry out with an umbilical system and dribble bar. With the weather changing as the closed period came to an end the contractors were working around the clock to get the work done. Increasingly contracting jobs seem to be more concentrated, with work being either a feast or a famine.

Milk price in NI is reflecting the strong worldwide markets for milk powder, butter and cheese which most of NI milk goes to produce. Gone are the days when we used to envy the suppliers on the mainland with their huge centre of population and large liquid milk contracts.

Capability to process milk on the mainland will have to be increased so supermarkets will have to compete for the real value of milk.

Sheep trade is flying due to the extreme scarcity of numbers but beef trade seems stubbornly stuck in the doldrums and with the huge rise in inputs it’s hard to know how it can survive.