A FLAGSHIP event for the UK beef industry is due to be held in the North for the second year in succession.

The 2020 NBA Beef Expo will take place at the grand opening of the new auction centre for Darlington Farmers Auction Mart (DFAM), on Thursday, May 28.

It follows a successful 2019 beef expo held at the J36 Rural Auction Centre in Cumbria. That event, in May this year, drew a record number of exhibitors and competition entrants and about 4,000 visitors.

“The National Beef Association (NBA) is delighted to be hosting its flagship technical beef event, Beef Expo, in the North of the country for the second consecutive year, and in doing so marking the grand opening of Darlington Farmers Auction Market’s brand new Humbleton Park Auction Centre,” said William Walton, NBA board member and Northern region representative.

“The NBA is committed to representing and supporting the interests of beef farmers across the UK, and the fact that we return to the North of the country following last year’s successful event in Cumbria demonstrates the strength, depth and importance of the sector in the Northern counties.

“We are also pleased to recognise the important role livestock auction markets play in delivering a competitive and traceable live sales environment for the sector.

“The new state-of-the-art facility at Darlington will be a key resource both for beef farmers and also the wider rural communities it serves,” said Mr Walton, of Penpeugh Farm, Bardon Mill, near Hexham.

The NBA said the 2020 event would be “bringing together the very best in British commercial and pedigree cattle, equipment, groundbreaking developments, and show classes for everyone involved in the industry. NBA Beef Expo is a celebration and exploration of everything British beef has to offer”.

The news is a major boost for farming in the region and also for DFAM. The auction was able to start work on its new site on the edge of Darlington earlier this year, after several decades of trying to relocate from its existing town-centre premises.

However, during the summer it emerged that Durham Constabulary was investigating allegations of ‘financial irregularities’ at DFAM.

Following the mart’s AGM in July a number of directors stepped down from the board, and it was announced last month that managing director and head auctioneer Andrew Armstrong had also left.

However, the work on the Humbleton site continued; a new competition for young handlers, sponsored by The Northern Farmer, was launched by DFAM; and the mart’s cafe won a national award.

The NBA announcement also follows a difficult time for Northern beef producers due to the crisis over plummeting prices, and amid the continued uncertainty for farming caused by Brexit.

Before the expo the renowned industry farm tours will take place, and the Beef Industry Dinner will be held on Wednesday, May 27.

The expo itself is considered a major showcase for pedigree and commercial breed societies who want to promote the quality of their cattle.

The event will also will host the National Commercial Cattle Show and the South Devon Technical Championships.