Chinese set to import Northern Irish pork in potentially 'immense' new trade deal
China will open its doors to fresh pork imports from Northern Ireland for the first time ever over the coming weeks, according to Stormont's Agriculture Minister.
Michelle O'Neill broke this important news for the local pig industry while visiting Saturday's Omagh Show.
"I am not in a position to put a figure on the actual value of this new trading opportunity in the short term," she said.
"However, its potential is immense.
"There is no quick fix when it comes to developing business opportunities in China.
"It's all about developing good relations with the country's economic and political leaders.
"I have recently returned from my third visit to Chin - and I am delighted that all of the work and effort put in by a large group of people is now starting to pay off."
Ms O'Neill believes that the attainment of new food export markets will underpin the future sustainability of agriculture in Northern Ireland.
"Opportunities of this nature are also unfolding in the United States, Australia and the Philippines for a range of beef and pork products," she said.
"This is the only way by which the farming and food sectors can overcome the challenge of volatility, which is such an important issue for both sectors to deal with at the present time."
The minister characterised the Omagh Show as being at the very heart of the rural community in Co Tyrone.
"It is tremendous to see so many people coming along to this year's event and I would like to wish the organisers every success for the future," she said.
The show rings at Omagh saw Paul McGarry, from Crumlin, crowned Champion of the show with his outstanding Blonde cow Budore Garnet. He had won the beef inter-breed title earlier in the day.
This is turning out to be another tremendous showing season for the McGarry family.
Garnet has already notched up a number of breed and inter-breed titles this year, always with her equally eye-catching calf at foot. Back in 2013 the same animal enjoyed a tremendously successful show season as a heifer. And she is now repeating this success as a proven breeding animal.
The McLean family, from Bushmills in Co Antrim, won the dairy inter-breed championship with their stylish Jersey cow Bluegrass Bobs Jane Russell.
For good measure they also took home the Holstein, Ayrshire and Jersey breed titles.
By far the most popular result of the day was Harold Dickey's victory in the sheep inter-breed championship.
This most retiring of men was given a tremendous round of applause as he left the show ring with his Border Leicester shearling ewe.