BYGONE DAYS: Minister in call to ‘level out’ beef and egg producing

Minister of Agriculture, the Reverend Robert Moore, had issued a call to Ulster farmers to “level out” in future their production, especially of beef and eggs, throughout the whole year instead of concentrating on the most suitable months, reported the News Letter during this week in 1951.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 11:00 am
Ulster Farmers' Union president John Warden presents the DANI Cup to Bertie Kerr of Ballymoney, exhibitor of the best performance-tested boar at the show and sale of pedigree pigs which was held at Balmoral in March 1991. Picture: Farming Life archives

“Our policy,” he declared, “must be milk and beef - not beef versus milk. I am confident that on this dual foundation there is a sound future for our agriculture.”


Mr Moore had been presenting his estimates at Stormont.

Robin Todd from Banbridge receives the champion bacon carcase from Lyle Rea, agricultural manager, RUAS, after the show and sale of pedigree pigs which was held at Balmoral in March 1991. Picture: Farming Life archives

He announced that the restriction whereby farmers were required to sell all their potatoes to the Ministry of Food would be removed in 1952, and, “that they would free to grow crops for feeding to their livestock if they wished”.

Mr Moore said that the province’s estimated output of cattle for 1951 showed an increase of 12 per cent, over 1946-47. For pigs the increase was no less than 233 per cent, for milk 23 per cent, and for eggs 40 per cent.

“It was in to carping spirit”, that Mr Moore pointed out that the tillage acreage had declined by 16 per cent, from 700,880 acres at June 1, 1946, to 591,976 acres at June 1, 1950. The fall in the acreage of oats had been 67,397 acres – 16 per cent.


Robert Overend, left, from Bellaghy receives the PPDC Cup for best Red Star boar from UFU president Johm Warden at the show and sale of pedigree pigs which was held at Balmoral in March 1991. Included is Jack Collins, centre, from Belfast, who was one of the judges. Picture: Farming Life archives

He noted that during those years the issues of rationed feeding stuffs had increased by no less than 70 per cent - from 348,288 tons in the year ending April 30, 1946, to about 592,000 tons in the year just ended.

It was very obvious, therefore, he remarked, that the striking increase in the production livestock and livestock products had been due to the increase in the issues of rationed feeding stuffs.

“If we keep in mind that in 1950 a substantial amount of our imported animal feeding stuffs came from Soviet Russia,” Mr Moore said, “I think that we will realise the uncertainties in regard to the future of our livestock production unless we can make ourselves more self-supporting by means of increased home-grown feeding stuffs.

“Although the present sowing season is one of great difficulty, I can only hope that farmers in their own interests will do their utmost to grow as large a crop acreage as possible.

Andrew and John Overend with the champion Landrace at the show and sale of pedigree pigs which was held at Balmoral in March 1991. The animal was exhibited by Robert Overend of Bellaghy. Picture: Farming Life archives

“It appears sometimes that farmers have the idea that it is somehow in the interest of the government that they should maintain a high acreage tillage.

“In actual fact, however, it is in their own interest that they should grow as much feed as they can. They can retain all the oats they grow for their own use.

“No account is taken of such oats in Northern Ireland in the issue of rationed feeding stuffs, and the farmer has also been free to sell oats, if he chooses, to neighbouring farmers.”


William Gabbie from Crossgar with the reserve champion Large White at the show and sale of pedigree pigs which was held at Balmoral in March 1991. Picture: Farming Life archives

Referring to the production objectives set at the recent price review in London, Mr Moore said that, as far as cattle, sheep and pigs were concerned, the government was anxious to see as much produced as farmers could find it practical and possible to produce.

In the case of milk, however, a further expansion was not desired, and with eggs also the present level of total production was regarded as reasonably adequate, “but it was desired to transfer a greater proportion existing output to the winter months”.

Mr Moore said that the attested herds scheme, the objective of which were the elimination of tuberculosis, was expected to cost £15,000 more than the previous year.

He said that the scheme continued to “make good progress” and that there were 560 “attested or supervised herds” compared with about 250 the previous year.

Of two main increases in the vote for research and education, one was £10,000 in the grant to Queen’s University to meet the cost 
of work in 1951/52 of providing additional accommodation for agricultural research at the Agricultural Faculty building Elmwood Avenue.

Mr Moore said that about 54,000 acres had now been acquired for forestry purposes, and almost 30,000 acres had been planted.

About 2,300 acres were planted in 1949-50, and it had been hoped that 2,500 acres would have been planted in 1950-51, but the abnormally severe season had delayed planting operations and that it would “now be very doubtful that acreage would fact planted”, the Minister of Agriculture said.