Former rugby star Rory Best trials agri-tech as Brexit looms

Former rugby star Rory Best trials agri-tech as Brexit looms

Former Ulster and Ireland rugby captain Rory Best is trialling technology designed to combat Brexit agriculture export challenges after Brexit (Adam Davy/PA)

Former Ulster and Ireland rugby captain Rory Best has trialled technology designed to combat agriculture export challenges after Brexit.

Ireland’s third most-capped player retired last year after three autumn games with the Barbarians, having made his 124th and final Irish appearance in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The trial involves the continuous record of an animal from birth through to slaughter, and includes smart technology.

It is due to be rolled out to 200 farms in Northern Ireland as exporters grapple with change due to the EU withdrawal.

The company behind the venture said: “Former Ulster and Ireland rugby captain Rory Best agreed to bring the trial onto the pedigree Aberdeen Angus farm that he and his father run, continuing on the grazing field the data-driven attention to detail that he brought to the sports field.”

A new platform named NSF Verify to ensure the authenticity and integrity of agri-food supply chains is being tested (NSF International)

A new platform named NSF Verify to ensure the authenticity and integrity of agri-food supply chains is being tested.

Stephen Cox, NSF programme director, said: “Northern Ireland farmers and processors have built their industry by establishing a global reputation for the highest quality agricultural product.

“The NSF Verify platform has been designed to help lock-in that value, and in parallel, provide many of the answers to questions arising from the post-Brexit borders and relationships.”

The future of agriculture movements is among issues being addressed in the talks between London and Brussels aimed at reaching a trade deal before the transition period concludes at the end of this year.

New checking facilities for goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Britain will not be ready for the end of the Brexit transition period, a senior official has confirmed.

Contingency arrangements are being prepared, including the repurposing of old buildings and an interim paper-based checking system, when the requirement for additional regulatory checks at ports comes into effect on January 1.

Denis McMahon, the permanent British secretary in the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs, said he and his colleagues had been left in an “impossible position” as they worked on a project that was openly opposed by their minister, Edwin Poots.

Mr McMahon said his department was legally obliged to introduce the new SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) checking facilities and would be acting unlawfully if they did not proceed with the work.

The official said while Mr Poots maintained his opposition to the project, the DUP minister had acknowledged the legal requirement, both in domestic and international law, to set up the infrastructure.

A committee of assembly members recently heard that procurement, planning and IT issues had delayed work on the new port facilities.

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