Growing up on her family farm in Perthshire, Mrs Morrison has always had a passion for farming, so when she saw what the Aberdeen-Angus breed could offer farmers and the supply chain, she was keen to promote it.
“My drive to bring Aberdeen-Angus back to the forefront of beef production dates back to when I started working for the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture in 1969 with my then colleague Jim Jack, who was a very enthusiastic supporter of the breed,” says Ms Morrisson.
“A few years later, my husband and I started the Tullyglush herd with the purchase of two heifers, from which our herd grew over the years.”
Ms Morrison says the challenge at the time was that market demand for Aberdeen-Angus was very limited. So, along with Jim Jack and members of the NI club, they set out to publicize the benefits of Aberdeen-Angus in the hope that they might increase the appetite for this breed in Northern Ireland.
“When a butcher approached the NI Livestock Club in 1994, we saw it as a fantastic opportunity. A feasibility study identified a possible supply of five cattle per week. In 1997, I led a successful promotion campaign for the breed which resulted in the formation of the AAQB cooperative in April 1998.
“With continued promotion of the breed, we entered into a partnership with Foyle Food Group (FFG) in June of that year, beginning to send five cattle per week from registered Aberdeen-Angus bulls to the processing plant,” she says. .
‘By November 2000 the number had risen to 30 a week, enabling FFG to supply Tesco Northern Ireland, the first retailer to have AA beef checked on its shelves and this was supplied by AAQB members. This was the start of a very successful supply chain partnership. Since then, the market has grown exponentially and our 450 members have increased production to meet demand. it highlights.
“Most of the more expensive bulls sold at Dungannon sales are bought by farmers in the co-op because they can really see the benefit of investing in good genetics,” she says.
“Farmers enjoy an average bonus of over £100 per head by supplying verified Aberdeen-Angus cattle.”
Ms Morrison says the breed is in a much better place now than it was 40 years ago.
Robert Gilchrist, acting chief executive of the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society, said the tables have really turned for the breed in Northern Ireland thanks to the work Ms Morrison has done with the AAQB.
“Many farmers are producing high quality Aberdeen-Angus cattle in Ireland to meet the current high demand from processors and retailers. What has also made the difference is that with the AAQB showing the true value of the breed, farmers in Northern Ireland have received significantly higher returns for their premium cattle,” he explains. -he.
“Ms Morrison is very worthy of this MBE and it is fantastic that her work for the breed and the sector has been recognised,” he concludes.