February 2022 took the YDP Senior Conference over to Northern Ireland, where our event was based at Omagh. Events centered around the local processor, Foyle Food Group, local Foyle supplier units and Foyle’s own expanding trial finishing unit.
Lead Farm Liaison Officer, Andrew Clarke, welcomed the group to the Foyle (Omagh) processing plant, where we assembled in their board room and were introduced to Aberdeen-Angus Quality Beef, a cooperative scheme established in 1998 by Ann Morrison. The scheme provides physical inspections and DNA profiling to ensure supply chain traceability with Aberdeen-Angus sire verification and incorporates the 15 point grading scale for carcasses to ensure the integrity of the final product. Foyle also offers a semen straw from their own supply in return for each animal consigned to ensure a consistent carcass throughout the chain. Once donned in our blue foot coverings, white overalls, hair nets and masks, we were escorted around the whole process, working back from dispatch to the lairage.
It was fascinating observing the skilled labour working very efficiently and thoroughly in the processing and packaging hall. A demonstration from a Foyle master butchers on breaking down a loin, plus a look at graded hanging carcasses, certainly added to the experience. Foyle also kindly supplied lunch, and during this time, we had a very informative presentation from Naomi Heron from their marketing department on effective marketing strategies. The Foyle Group Farm, just 20 minutes away, enabled us to see cattle and trials covering various topics, including diet and housing.
On Saturday morning, we visited several farms that provided finished cattle for Foyle. Unfortunately, the snow did try to hinder our travels, but we arrived safely and enjoyed great hospitality and farm tours. We thank Tynan, Noreen Roulston, Leslie Dunn, and family for their time, kindly hosting us and showing us their farming practices and cattle.
YDP Youth Council
Whilst enjoying the evening meal, YDP Chairman, Will Chrystal, continued the subject of setting up a Youth Council, which had been raised at previous Senior Conferences. It was discussed at length and through a fair voting process of those present, a Chairman and Vice Chairman to represent all of Ireland was agreed upon. Congratulations to Callum McAleese as Chairman and Mena McCloskey as Vice. It is hoped they will meet regularly and establish a role to link the YDP to the Society Council.
What is always so impressive about those attending the Senior Conference is the expanse of talent and willingness to grow as an individual whilst making new acquaintances and having fun. We hope that other young people can be encouraged to join in future events, as all are welcome over the age of 18 years.