Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, has formally opened a new training facility at the CAFRE Hill Farm Centre.
The new building incorporates a large classroom and smaller meeting room, which can be combined to provide a conference hall space for up to 150 people. The new build provides students, farmers and visitors with up to date shower, toilet and changing facilities.
Commenting on the new building Minister Poots said: “In this, the Queens Platinum Jubilee year, I am delighted to formally open these training facilities which will greatly enhance the ability of my Department to deliver knowledge and innovation to farmers across strategically important areas of work, including climate change, farming for nature and improving livestock performance.”
The CAFRE Hill Farm Centre is situated between Ballymena and Larne and extends to over 1000ha. CAFRE use the farm to demonstrate the latest innovations in agri-environment technology to students, farmers and the wider industry.
Minister Poots explained the significance of the investment: “My Department is currently developing a peatland strategy, which will provide a framework for both conserving our intact peatlands and a peatland restoration programme.
“Here at the CAFRE Hill Farm, we are taking forward two peatland restoration projects where we have been rewetting 12 hectares of open moor and also restoring an area which was previously planted with conifers. These projects will make a significant contribution to the work of CAFRE to implement the targets within my Climate Change Bill.”
During the visit, the Minister planted a tree in recognition that the building was opened during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year and seen at first hand the work of CAFRE staff to use innovative techniques to safely rewet moorland. The Minister was given a tour of the sheep house where staff explained the preparations which had been put in place to successfully lamb the 1,100 ewes on the farm.
Minister Poots concluded: “These new facilities provide an excellent focal point from which my Department can showcase the ongoing work to demonstrate the contribution of the environment as an enterprise on hill farms in Northern Ireland.”
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