Northern Ireland farmers like Henry and Packie show how it's done
Hopefully the weather has turned for the better, and with the longer evenings and (somewhat) drier days, our agri-food industry will look forward to a long and productive summer.
There are many positive factors for farming at the minute. The lower level of sterling makes it easier for our farmers and food producers to sell abroad. And while change might be on the horizon with regard to Brexit arrangements, any new developments in terms of market access haven't yet come into effect.
Farming has always taken a longer-term view, and it is the ability of many farmers to focus on the things that they can change, that makes it a vibrant part of our economy. In my experience, the most efficient and effective farmers are using the positive conditions now to put in place plans for their future sustainability.
Businesses like Packie Donnelly's and Henry Savage's show how farming matches heritage with innovation, and underlines the importance of the Balmoral Show in bringing these two themes together. When we think of technology and productivity, innovations like robotic milking, automatic grading and packaging of eggs, or blockchain technology to improve security and traceability of supply are all tangible demonstrations of how the industry is adapting and indeed leading what it means for local firms to compete in global markets.
We're looking forward to having a strong presence at Balmoral again this year, celebrating the 150th Show and our 10th year as principal sponsor. It's an opportunity to show our pride in the success of our customers, because we know we only succeed when they do. Things have changed a great deal since I went to my first Show, but it is a reminder to other industries - especially banking - of the need to meet change early and head-on, and to have a mindset of constant improvement. I look forward to meeting many new people - and new ideas - again this year.
- The Balmoral Show is at Balmoral Park outside Lisburn from May 16-19.