Red Tractor drops online medicine book plan

Plans to introduce compulsory online records of antibiotic usage as part of Red Tractor quality assurance schemes have been dropped.

In January 2021, Red Tractor published proposals which would require records of all antibiotic use on participating farms to be put on a new “medicine hub” for both the dairy scheme, and the beef and lamb scheme.

But after consulting with participating farmers and wider industry, the proposal has not been included in the revised scheme standards which are due to come into effect in November 2021.

In the Red Tractor pig scheme, farmer representatives had reacted angrily to a proposal which required staff to complete online training on how to handle pigs.

However, a new rule has still been included in the final scheme standard which requires “all persons involved in the care of pigs” to have completed modules on the UK pig industry training platform.

Over 3,400 responses to TB consultation

DAERA received over 3,400 responses to its public consultation on a bovine TB eradication strategy, a department spokesperson has confirmed.

The document included plans to roll out badger culls in TB hotspot areas, as well as proposals to cut and cap compensation payments for reactor cattle.

It is understood there was a surge of responses in hours before the consultation closed last Friday after local farmers were encouraged to respond individually.

While most wildlife campaigners had different a view to farmers on the badger cull proposals, a number of wildlife groups told their members to side with farmers on opposing plans for compensation cuts.

QUB tops UK University ranking for agriculture

Queen’s University Belfast has been ranked as the number one university in the UK to study for degrees related to agriculture, forestry and food.

The latest rankings compiled by The Guardian newspaper put QUB on an overall excellence score of 100/100. This is calculated from criteria including student satisfaction, entry requirements and employment rates after graduating.

The University of Leeds was ranked second for agriculture, forestry and food, with the University of Nottingham in third, followed by Welsh universities at Aberystwyth and Bangor. Harper Adams was placed eighth, with SRUC down in 15th.

Fane Valley to expand oats operation

Local farmer-owned co-op Fane Valley has unveiled plans to expand milling capabilities in its White’s Speedicook business with a new oat milling facility at Mandeville Industrial Estate in Craigavon.

According to the co-op, the investment is being driven by strong consumer trends showing a demand for plant-based foods. The plans for the development are currently at a public consultation stage, with feedback to be considered before a formal planning application is made to the local council.

If given the go-ahead, the project will create up to 30 new jobs.

Beef webinar to focus on carbon

The third in a series of webinars looking at solutions to deliver sustainable beef production, organised by various beef industry bodies in NI, is to take place at 8pm on Thursday 30 September 2021. It will focus on ‘Carbon – an opportunity and a challenge’, and will be chaired by Aileen Lawson from the UFU. Register at the events section of the UFU website ( or call 028 9037 0222.

NAP training for slurry contractors

The UFU is to hold two online training sessions, delivered by CAFRE, to inform contractors about changes implemented by DAERA as part of the Nutrients Action Programme (NAP).

Among the changes that came in with NAP, from 1 February 2021 all slurry contractors in NI were required to use low-emission slurry spreading equipment. This extends to all farmers with over 200 livestock units from 1 February 2022.

The training event will take place on Zoom at 8pm on Tuesday 21 September or on Tuesday 28 September. Register on the events section of the UFU website ( or by calling 028 90370222. Following on from these online events, the UFU plans to host a practical, on-farm session during the slurry closed period.

DAERA seeks sheep TDF applications

An application window has opened for sheep farmers in NI to apply to become Technology Demonstration Farms (TDF). Two farms will be appointed under the theme of grassland management, across Armagh, Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone. Farms have already been selected in Antrim and Down.

Under the TDF programme, farms will be expected to host between eight and 12 visits annually by groups of farmers, showing the use of innovative technology on the host farm.

A payment of £600 can be claimed for each visit hosted. Interested farmers should apply on the CAFRE website before 4pm on Monday 4 October.