Fermanagh farmers have been improving their French accents recently after undertaking a study tour to the Clermont-Ferrand region.

A group of 44 farmers from the county took part in the visit to the Sommet de L'Elevage International Agricultural Show, Clermont-Ferrand, developed and led by Heather McLaughlin, Europe Direct NI and organised through the Ulster Farmers' Union in the county.

The Sommet de L'Elevage in Clermont-Ferrand is one of the largest international shows specialising in livestock production, located at the heart of the Massif Central, in the largest beef cattle breeding region in Europe. Each year the SOMMET Show hosts 1,250 exhibitors, 2,000 animals gathering together the very best in French animal genetics with livestock from every sector including beef, dairy, sheep and horses. The Blonde d'Aquitaine breed national show (including 450 animals) was held during the three-day show.

The Beef Hall hosted competitions for the Limousin, Charolais, Salers, Aubrac and Gasconne breeds and the Dairy Hall hosted competitions for Holstein, Brown Swiss and Montbeliarde with showings of other breeds such as Pie Rouges des Plaines and Jersey.

Members of the group from Fermanagh participated in farm visits which were during the mornings and afternoons throughout the show. These provided an opportunity to visits livestock farms (e.g. Limousin, Charolais, Holstein, Montbeliarde,Texel Sheep as well as agro-industrial technology units such as cattle collecting centres, feed-lots, slaughterhoues, artificial insemination unit and other places of interest.

The Show also had an exhibitions of farm machinery, equipment, livestock supplies and services as well as seminars and conferences to discuss the latest developments in the agricultural sector. A special area for international visitors provided assistance with professionals to guide participants around the competitions, exhibitions, conferences and seminars.

During the few days in French, when the group enjoyed sunny autumn weather, they visited Limousin and Charolais beef breeding farms as well as looking at dairy herds.