Agri Food news

Love Lamb Week raises awareness of lamb production

A sheep farm in Co Tyrone.

Providing consumers with an insight into the importance of lamb production, and encouraging them to try local lamb, is at the heart of Love Lamb Week 2020 running from September 1-7.

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is working in collaboration with the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots on the initiative.

“Lamb production is an integral part of Northern Ireland’s agricultural industry for various reasons,” said Victor Chestnutt, president, UFU. “It’s a delicious product produced to some of the highest standards in the world, it ticks all the boxes for quality, has a short supply chain and is of true local provenance representing the very best of NI produce.

“Love Lamb Week is a great opportunity for us to focus on sheep production and raise awareness of why it is such an important commodity.

“Local sheep production is a key contributor to the local community and wider Northern Ireland economy. It is one of the ways in which farmers manage the countryside and plays an important role in shaping our environment.

“Our scenery is iconic across the world and sheep production is part and parcel of that. Here in Northern Ireland we have a lot of hill ground and sheep production is one of very few farming commodities that is sustainable in the hills. For those who seek an environmentally friendly product, you will not get greener than sheep bred on the hills and finished on lowland pastures.”

The UK-wide campaign aims to raise awareness of the nutritional factors of having lamb in your diet and the versatility of the red meat product. Paula McIntyre will be conducting an online cookery class via Belfast Live, to show consumers how quick and easy it is to make tasty lamb dishes at home as part of Love Lamb Week.

Ian Stevenson, chief executive, LMC, said: “We are once again proud to be supporting the Love Lamb Week initiative which is a great opportunity to showcase the environmental and health benefits of consuming local Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured lamb.

“It is an important opportunity to encourage discussion surrounding lamb and to urge consumers to support local farmers, who are working tirelessly to provide a product that can be guaranteed of the highest qualities, from farm to fork.

“Unlike previous years, we are unable to host lamb sampling events in retail stores and promotional activities have had to diversify to comply with Covid-19 regulations. However, there is no doubt that this year’s plans will be greater than before.

“In a supply chain wide collaboration, local street food restaurateurs, The Hatch will be promoting NIFQA lamb through a speciality dish with a contemporary twist to encourage consumers to get back in touch with lamb. This is an important opportunity to engage with the public and put lamb back on the menu as a versatile, flavoursome and nutritious meat that can be enjoyed all year round and on any day of the week”.

Poots said: “Such is the quality of Northern Ireland lamb that it is one of the absolute benchmarks for our entire range of high-quality agricultural produce. The calibre of care taken by those who rear our lambs is renowned across the globe – yet another reason why it is in a very strong position to compete against other countries when standards are compared by international experts.

“My department remains committed to maintaining the already very strong relationships with our local producers who are amongst some of the best in the world. It is in this way that we will continue to ensure the production of the finest lamb for those, wherever they may be, who buy our lamb products.

“I am very proud to be in the position to play my part in promoting Northern Irish lamb at every given opportunity, safe in the knowledge that I am spreading the word that we can rightly and truly claim to be a world leader in this sector and Love Lamb Week is another chance to do just that.”

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