It was an occasion when the country went to the city as the Ulster Farmers’ Union held their annual dinner at Belfast City Hall on Friday evening.
Ulster Farmers’ Union President, Ian Marshall, in his final few weeks in his role before stepping down, said he was delighted to welcome over 300 guests, including UFU members, key representatives from the agriculture industry and politicians to the dinner 
Among those attending were the Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill; Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton; Justice Minister, David Ford; Councillor Stan Phillips of Agricultural Affairs from the US Embassy, MLA’s, Northern Ireland’s three MEP’s, Jim Nicholson, Diane Dodds and Martina Anderson and the Presidents of the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, Meurig Raymond; NFU Scotland, Allan Bowie; NFU Cymru, Stephen James and the National Chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association, Jer Bergin.
“For us the UFU annual dinner is not only an opportunity to celebrate Northern Ireland’s farming industry particularly in this the Year of Food and Drink but also a chance to show our appreciation to the huge network of industry, partners, policy makers and politicians that we work with on an ongoing basis,” explained Mr Marshall.  
“Over the last 18 months, we have faced some of the most challenging farming conditions in living memory but at the same time, it is extremely important that we celebrate all that’s good with Northern Ireland food and farming.” 
During his address, the President reflected on life 100 years ago and remarked how the economy had changed.
Meurig Raymond, proposing a vote of thanks, remarked on the number of young people attending and said there is certainly a place for young farmers to produce food.
Mr Raymond said that with an increasing population in the United Kingdom with 70 million estimated by 2030, self sufficiency has dropped from 80 per cent in 1994 to around 62 per cent.
He said he was certain that food and farming would be the industry to be involved in, in the years ahead.
The UFU’s annual awards were also made at the dinner.
The Mary Wilson Trophy, named after Miss Mary Wilson, formerly from Lisbellaw, who was associated with the UFU for many years, and awarded for the best overall UFU group performance in 2015 was presented to the South Tyrone Group.  
The Cuthbert Trophy was awarded to the North East Armagh Group for retaining the highest percentage of their members in 2015. 
The Belfast Telegraph Cup for outstanding agricultural achievement was awarded to Clarke Black, former Chief Executive of the UFU who was unable to be there to receive the award.
The cup was collected by Mr. Cyril Millar on Clarke’s behalf.