Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has for the first time, attended the National Ploughing Championships (NPC) in Ratheniska, Co Laois.
Now in its 91st year, the NPC is Ireland’s largest agricultural event, with expected attendance of approximately 300,000 visitors, 1,700 exhibitors and just over 300 competitors.
During his visit, the Minister met with a range of Northern Ireland companies, exhibitors and visitors and met a number of dignitaries.
Speaking about his visit, Minister Poots said: “This is the first time I have attended the Championships and one could not fail to be impressed by the vast scale of this event. It is fundamentally a ploughing competition, which is truly and rightly recognised on the international map as a major competition, attracting world class ploughmen. I wish all the competitors, especially those from Northern Ireland, best wishes.
“The event is of course very beneficial for Northern Ireland companies and visitors.
"From walking around and meeting people, particularly NI exhibitors (approximately 90 in attendance) and competitors, it is clear to see and hear the benefits of trading and showcasing the best of NI businesses, agri products and our excellent food produce, to a wide and varied audience.
“The Event provides unique opportunities to promote Northern Ireland’s agri-food and rural sectors to a large audience from across Ireland and further afield. There will also be a display of local food produce from Northern Ireland within the DAERA exhibition stand.
The Minister continued: “We intend to continue to build NI’s reputation for excellent produce. In October 2021, I helped launch FoodNI’s ‘Our Food, Power of Good’ campaign, to promote the good of our local industry, our quality produce and our sustainability in terms of production and reputation of the food that is produced on local farms in NI. My Department will also continue to explore new market opportunities in partnership with others.
“I am also very pleased that CAFRE is back with us here at the Ploughing Championships. My Department has a strong commitment to developing the knowledge and skills of the local agri-food industry – both for those that are entering the industry and those well established and who wish to develop further. I firmly believe that educational attainment is linked to the economic success of our industry."
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