Find out more about who we are, what we do and why.

About Us

Founded in 1918, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is the largest democratic voluntary organisation representing farmers and growers in Northern Ireland.

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World War 1

Prices of almost all farm produce were controlled by the government. 


First Public Meeting

Public meeting to consolidate the farmers of Ulster into one strong organisation.  The UFU officially formed in January 1918. 

Photo from The Belfast News-Letter, December 2017

December 1917

UFU officially forms

The UFU was officially formed in January 1918.


Women in the UFU

One of the first organisations to grant women members equal rights and privileges. Edith Copes, Dorothy Robertson, and Mary Wilson were among the early supporters.

Photo of Mary Wilson from UFU 70th Anniversary book


First Annual General meeting

Over 70 branches affiliated with the UFU in the nine counties of Ulster. 12 Co Antrim, 2 Co Cavan, 5 Co Derry, 16 in Co Down, 4 in Co Donegal, 1 in Co Monaghan, and 5 in Co Tyrone. 120 meetings had been held in organisations first year. 

Membership subscription was one shilling for every £5 Poor Law Valuation of land.


April 1919

Non-sectarian policy

Policy of excluding sectarian matters was adopted by the UFU 


UFU Farmers Journal

Launch of the UFU’s weekly newspaper the ‘Farmers Journal’. In 1922 it became a monthly magazine.

Image from UFU archives


Partition of Ireland

A Partition of Ireland in 1921 meant that the branches in Co Cavan, Co Monaghan, and Co Donegal reluctantly had to end their connection with the UFU.

Image from Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1783048


Land Tenure

UFU ensures completion of government action to change land tenure from that of tenant farmer to owner-occupier.


NFU Mutual adoption

NFU Mutual adopted as the insurance society of the UFU


Cheap food protest

UFU organises meeting of 1300 farmers to protest cheap food imports, blamed for depressing prices of home produced products.

March 1931

Milk strike

Retailers refused to meet the UFU milk committee for the annual haggle over the winter milk price. Instead offered the summer price of 9d per gallon. The UFU refused to accept less than 1/4d per gallon. Farmers went on strike and refused to supply milk. They arranged pickets and blocked roads. The strike lasted a week and ended with Lord Craigavon mediating an agreement.

Photo from Belfast News-Letter, November 1931


Start of World War II

UK government agrees to buy all food at fixed prices. Evening meetings of Union branches cancelled on account of ‘black out’ restrictions and petrol rationing.


UFU threatens to 'down tools'

 UFU threatens to ‘down tools’ and refuses to carry out the compulsory tillage order if fatstock prices are reduced.

September 1940

Price guarantee

UK Government pledges that there will be a system of guaranteed prices reflecting changing production costs and an assured market for the duration of the war and for at least one year afterwards.

January 1941

Raising the Bar

NI farmers raise output to £44 million. Export 360 million eggs and 20,000 gallons of fresh milk to GB. Record breaking acreage of crops grown and yields harvested.

Photo courtesy of William Cantley. Emee Cantley helping with the milking.


25th Anniversary of UFU

There are now 193 branches across NI.


UFU opens new headquarters

UFU HQ opens at 18 Donegal Square East.

December 1946

The Agricultural Act

UK government passes Agricultural Act introducing assured markets and guaranteed prices for principal agricultural products. Start of the post war Annual Price Review.


Return of free markets

NI farmers facing price differential with GB counterparts. UFU organises mass meeting of 1800 farmers to demand price parity with GB.

Photo from UFU 70th Anniversary book

January 1954

The Remoteness Grant

 UFU secures £1 million ‘The Remoteness Grant’, paid annually, to compensate for price differential between NI and GB.


UFU membership card

Loaned to the UFU by Ruth Irvine.


Remoteness Grant increase

After an unsatisfactory Annual Price Review, the UFU lobbies for the Remoteness Grant to be increased. RG set at £1.75 million.


Central reorganisation of the UFU

 This saw the introduction of Council, Executive and central commodity committees.


UFU subscription change

Union moves to subscription based on acreage. Minimum subscription £26 and a maximum of £200.


UFU moves headquarters to 475 Antrim Road, Belfast


UK joins the European Economic Community


Beef Protest

After entry into the EEC, UK support arrangements for beef break down and prices for cattle collapse. UFU organises protest of 5,000 farmers with 3,500 tractors and combines across the province. Consumers warned “WE GO BROKE – YOU GO HUNGRY”

Photo from Farm Week, September 1974


Grouping of UFU Branches

Grouping of UFU branches completed.


UFU secures less favoured areas extension for NI

UFU secures extension of less favoured areas in Northern Ireland under EU designation, results in 70 per cent of land eligible for assistance.


BSE crisis

EU Commission imposes world wide ban on all British beef exports. UFU secures scheme to slaughter and destroy all cattle over the age of 30 months.

Photo from Farming Life, March 1996


UFU opens new headquarters building at 475 Antrim Road, Belfast


Countryside Services Ltd

The UFU opens Countryside Services Ltd. To provide a range of services to the farming and rural community.


Foot and Mouth

Foot and Mouth found in the GB and Northern Ireland. UFU works with government to stop the spread of disease. 

Photo from Farming Life, March 2001


UFU CARE Campaign

UFU CARE campaign to stop a rural exodus. Raises awareness of the difficulties facing farmers and their families.

Photo from UFU Archive


Cut it Out

UFU launches ‘Cut it Out’ campaign to remove excessive red tape from the farming industry.

Photo from UFU archive


UFU lobbies for reinstatement of Suckler Cow premium

 UFU successfully lobbies to have the Suckler Cow Premium payment reinstated after farmers are penalised as a result of poorly written department guidance regarding the 5 per cent heifer rule. 


UFU 90th Anniversary

UFU celebrates its 90th anniversary. Raises £140,000 and builds two primary schools in Uganda.

Photo from UFU archive


UFU secures boost in LFA payments

UFU secures boost in LFA payments when it highlights the favourable exchange rate. Results in £3.3 million in back payments for 2007, 2008, and 2009.


Farm Price Protest

Farmers sell produce at farm gate price to show unfairness in supply chain.

Photo from UFU archive


Snowstorm hits NI farms hard

In 2013 Northern Ireland was hit by severe snowstorm. Thousands of sheep and cattle perished. UFU secures fallen stock scheme, fodder scheme and £3 million hardship fund.  

Photo from UFU archive


UFU stops tractor MOT

UFU stops the introduction of MOT-style testing for tractors and trailers buy helping the EU see the costly proposals were bureaucratic, unworkable and there was no evidence to show that additional testing would increase road safety.


National Parks

The National Parks debate has been ongoing for nearly a decade and farmers are extremely relieved in November 2013, after intense lobbying by the UFU, when the Environment Minister shelved plans to introduce national parks enabling legislation


Groceries Code Adjudicator

UFU key driver in the establishment of the UK Groceries Code Adjudicator whose function is to ensure fairness in the supply chain.


EU farm gate price protest

UFU and farmers across the EU protest falling farm gate prices in Brussels.

Photo from UFU archive


Profits averaging win

UFU secures profits averaging extension from two years to five year.


UK Votes to leave EU

 UK votes to leave the EU. Development of new UK agriculture policy gets underway. 


Mighty spud

UFU key supporter of the ‘Mighty Spud’ campaign to get people eating more potatoes.


UFU win judicial review

UFU wins case against the department regarding the definition of intent vs negligence in relation to cross compliance.


100 Years

The UFU celebrates 100 years of being the voice of farmers with over 11,300 members, 27 HQ staff, 25 group offices, 58 group managers.

To mark the occasion, UFU aims to raise £100,000 for Air Ambulance NI who provide a life saving service for the farming and rural community.