Gilford-based farmer, Harry McGaffin and his newly opened Blackberry Hill Farm Shop have been shortlisted as finalists in the NI Agricultural Awards 2016.
Harry, in his role as Secretary of the European Angus Cattle Society, has been nominated for a Special Recognition Award and his newly opened Farm Shop, Blackberry Hill Farm Shop with its Wagyu beef, features in the Best New Service/Product of the Year category, in this, the inaugural year of the competition.
The Northern Ireland Agricultural Awards aim to celebrate the many dedicated companies and hard-working people within the agricultural sector who strive to make a difference and inspire others.
Harry McGaffin is a founder member of the European Angus Cattle Society, which was formed back in 2003 and which is very much a home grown phenomenon. European Angus is a recognised breed of cattle in its own right, a cross between Aberdeen Angus cattle and Limousin.
Over the years Harry has worked tirelessly to promote both European Angus, the Society and its members.
As well as promoting European Angus Harry has been a great ambassador for agriculture in general.
He was the man behind the launch of the very successful ‘European Angus Steak Tasting Competition’ which ran for five years and is a great supporter of the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend, having participated on two occasions, including this year’s event.
With Harry innovation is never too far away and his latest venture is the opening of a Farm Shop at Blackberry Hill Farm.
As well as selling European Angus beef from the Shop he is also offering Wagyu cross beef produced on his own farm.
At present the Farm Shop opens at weekends, Friday and Saturday, but there are plans to extend the opening hours as the business grows.
Considerable emphasis is placed on a grass-fed approach to the rearing of animals and all Blackberry Hill Farm beef is traditionally matured on the bone for 21 days to ensure tenderness, succulence and a truly remarkable eating experience.
Harry, who started looking into the prospect of breeding Wagyu cattle back in 2010, now has a small number of Wagyu cross cattle on his Blackberry Hill Farm in Gilford.
In introducing Wagyu cross beef to Northern Ireland consumers Harry McGaffin has set up a working partnership agreement with a local Dairy farmer.
Through artificial insemination he is producing Wagyu cross calves for the farm shop business. As well as assisting his own business this initiative and agreement is also benefitting the local dairy farmer.
In working with animals Harry McGaffin operates a strict welfare policy and the emphasis is very much on ensuring that stress free conditions are part of normal every day practice.
Behind the Northern Ireland Agricultural Awards are Donna Hosking and Claire Dickson of Strategic Business Planning and Events and the winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony which is being staged at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast on Thursday the 22nd September.
The main sponsor is County Down-based Henderson Food Machinery Company, which specialises in the sale of food processing and packaging machinery.
“I am absolutely delighted to be featuring in two of the Awards categories in this, the very first year of the competition,” said Harry. “I know there are other hard-working farm families and businesses featuring in these awards and it is an honour to be recognised in this way alongside them.”