Farming

  • A Ballycastle farmer was last night named as the first National Rural Network Biodiversity Farmer of the Year at the FBD Young Farmer of the Year Awards at the Castleknock Hotel in Dublin.

    The National Rural Network Biodiversity Farmer of the Year Award recognises a farmer who is farming in a sustainable manner by encouraging biodiversity and protecting the environment.

    Raymond Langan was chosen as the winner for his unwavering enthusiasm for protecting the environment. He farms tough terrain close to the coastline in Co. Mayo, where - working with other farmers - he part farms some 59 hectares of commonage, as well as 45 breeding ewes and their followers on an additional 24 acres, half of which is low-input permanent pasture and traditional hay meadow, actions in the GLAS scheme. The judges were very impressed by his limited amount of dosing & antibiotics use. Raymond has also expressed a keen interest in beekeeping and he is taking steps to establish hives on his land by next spring.

  • Farmers who are members of the Beef Plan movement are continuing their protest outside a number of meat factories, with upwards on 30 farmers remaining outside Dawn Meats, Ballyhaunis overnight.

    The protests have continued throughout the country this morning and are expected to continue indefinitely.

    Protesters are aggrieved at collapsing beef prices as well as a reduction in the national herd under climate change regulations.

    The protesters have called on Cormac Healy, of Meat Industry Ireland, to engage with the Beef Plan Movement in a 'proper structured manner.'

  • The Department of Agriculture will have to find a way to ensure that the cost of electronic tagging of all sheep is not borne by sheep farmers.

    That’s according to the IFA, which is making a submission on the matter to the Minister for Agriculture, following a request by Minister Michael Creed.

    The IFA National Sheep Committee met recently  and agreed the main aspects of the submission to the Minister.

    Their submission will focus on the case that farmers cannot be expected to carry the costs of EID tagging when the main benefits will be going to the factories, the marts, the Department and the tag suppliers.

    The IFA claims the compulsory electronic tagging will cost Irish sheep farmers €2 million per year.

    They also claim it’s unacceptable that the Minister announces his move without consultation.

    In addition, the IFA submission will state that it is not practical at farm level to impose electronic tagging from this October, as the timing is all wrong in terms of the lamb trade and especially the store lamb trade.

    The association also claims there is no benefit in terms of traceability by using electronic tagging in lambs that move from the farm of origin directly to slaughter.

  • Minister Creed needs to immediately review the situation where commonage farmers in Achill are having their payments delayed because of a fire that occurred on the mountain on the island last summer.

    Achill based Fianna Fail councillor Paul McNamara made the appeal at the monthly meeting of Mayo county council  this week attended by Minister of State John Paul Phelan.

    He described the impact on farmers having their payments held up or withdrawn, when a fire occurs on commonage that is open and accessible to the general public.

    In one case on Achill there is a 17,000 acres of unfenced commonage held by more than 500 shareholders and with about 200 active farmers and these farmers are told that if there is 20 percent burning of the commonage then all their payments will be withheld.

    But he argued, those farmers cannot be responsible for what they simply can’t control.

  • The deadline for the use of chemical and organic fertilisers by farmers has been extended.

    Fodder levels are at critically low level heading into the winter months following the recent drought conditions, with the IFA stating that a further 10 million bales were needed to meet demand.

    The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, made the announcement at the opening of the Tullamore Show in Offaly today.

  • The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., has given an update in relation to online applications for the 2018 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

    The Minister says “Online applications offer a range of benefits for farmers and also help the Department to issue these vital payments more efficiently. He said he is delighted to see that a large number of farmers have already applied online since I announced the early opening of the 2018 application period.  Almost 35,000 farmers have already made their online applications, compared to a total of just 21,000 applications received at this stage last year.”

    The Minister added “In order to support farmers in applying online, the Department has been rolling out a range of technical supports for farmers. This will ensure that all farmers can access these vital financial supports.”

    Continuing, Minister Creed said “Staff from my Department are available to meet with farmers on a one-to-one basis in various locations throughout the country to assist them in making their applications. These clinics have proven very successful to date and farmers can sit down with an official from my Department and make their online BPS or Transfer of Entitlements applications on the spot. Already over one fifth of the small minority of farmers who applied in paper format last year have made the transition to an online application. It is important to ensure that this momentum is now maintained, and the 1 to 1 clinics offer farmers the opportunity to make the move to online efficiently.”

    In the coming week clinics will be available in Buncrana, Ballybofey, Roscommon, Sligo, Rosscarbery, Fermoy, Dungarvan, Bunclody, and Ballinasloe. A full list of all the clinics over the coming weeks is available on the Department’s website at:

    https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/bpsonlineclinics2018/

    Should farmers wish to contact the Department in relation to their online application they can do so at:

    • 076 1064424 in relation to queries on registering for www.agfood.ie – for example queries on lost passwords, how to register etc., or
    • 076 1064420 in relation to queries on actually completing the BPS application once registered on www.agfood.ie or to enquire about the one-to-one clinics.

     

  • A farmer with cattle can commercially tax a new jeep while a farmer without cattle, owning just sheep cannot, and according to Independent West Mayo Councillor Michael Holmes the situation is simply crazy.

    He argued at this week’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, this kind of an anomaly is just one of many that is causing young people not to opt to farm or live in rural Ireland.

    The councillor says the deterioration of services generally in rural Ireland is causing decimation of farms and people.

    A recent survey undertaken in a part of West Mayo showed that in 15 years time the 70 herd or flock owners now in the area, will be reduced to less than 20 and he says something has to be done to address rural decline.

    He says he is personally aware of up to ten small businesses in the west Mayo area that have decided or are seriously considering closing down at present.

  • While it might be too soon to say farmers are in a crisis situation due to the current dry spell of weather, they are certainly in a very difficult position.

    That’s according to Irish Farmers Journal News Correspondent Hannah Quinn Mulligan.

    The current dry conditions look set to continue into next week, with no rain forecast for at least another five days.

    Experts are warning farmers to take action now to help reduce issues further down the line.

    As grass growth is slow because of the heat, many farmers are feeding animals the first cut of silage and supplementing with meal.

    This may have a knock-on effect later in the year and fodder stocks.

  • Farming groups met with representatives of the GLAS division of the Department of Agriculture yesterday, in an effort to break the logjam that has developed where a substantial number of GLAS commonage farmers still remained to be paid their final 15% instalment for 2017.

    Currently around 9,000 commonage farmers are in GLAS on up to 4,000 commonages. So far, however, just 1,490 plans, representing 40%, have been finalised, meaning that up to 6,000 farmers are still awaiting payment worth around €4m.

    Among the groups which met with Department officials was the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association.

    Their spokesperson Colm O’Donnell called on all DAFM approved Commonage Advisors to complete outstanding plans immediately, particularly to those contracted in block by the Department of Agriculture to Teagasc, who in turn sub-contracted to work to Farm Relief Services. He says it is totally unacceptable if many of the planners who commenced the interim plans last year are no longer engaged in GLAS plans, and Teagasc must make the necessary service available so that their clients are not left high and dry.

  • Food prices have not kept up with inflation, according to the President of the IFA, Galway based farmer Joe Healy.

    A new UK study published today is warning that in the wake of the country’s recent heatwave pressure on crop production has increased and it could mean a rise of 5 percent in the price of meat, dairy and vegetable products in supermarkets.

    Mr Healy told Midwest News that extreme weather conditions here over the past number of months will also put a strain on food supply.

     He says in the 1960s a family on average spent 30 percent of their salary on food, that has now reduced to 15 percent on average and he attributes the reduction on CAP.

  • The Health & Safety Authority is today starting a 2-week long farm inspection campaign, with 400 inspections planned focusing on safe working with livestock.

    After tractors and machinery, accidents involving livestock are the next most common cause of fatalities on Irish farms.

    With the calving period getting underway, the risk of serious injury from livestock can be high, and inspectors from the Health & Safety Authority will be focusing on these risks, and livestock safety in general.

    Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health & Safety Authority,  says 13% of all fatal farm accidents are livestock-related…

  • Huge changes are on the way to farmer payments according to leaked CAP proposals that appear in the Irish Farmers Journal.

    Under the proposals payments will be channelled more towards active farmers not earning off farm income and the Department of Agriculture would have to define a new category of ‘Genuine’ farmers.

    There would be more freedom for Dublin to shape policies.

    Farmers with large off-farm income to be penalised, with a €60,000 cap on EU payments to large farmers.

    The new CAP deal is due to come into effect in two years time.

  • The ICMSA has welcomed changes in the new Heritage Bill which will allow the cutting of the sides of hedges on rural roads to be brought back from 1st September to 1st August, as a road safety measure.

    The Heritage Bill is currently at Final Stage in the Dail, and the ICMSA says it carefully balances the need to protect wildlife and the environment, with the requirements to allow safe driving on rural roads.

    Denis Drennan, Chairperson of the ICMSA's Farm & Rural Affairs Committee says many rural roads are in a dangerous condition due to overgrown hedges and obscured sightlines.

    Speaking with Paula Donnellan, he welcomed the minor changes in the new Bill in relation to when hedge-cutting is permitted.

  • IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has welcomed a recent increase in Farm Assist payments, and is reminding farmers that the IFA offers an online calculator to help determine if they qualify for Farm Assist and what level of payment they could expect.

     Farm Assist is a means tested income support scheme available to farm families when their income falls below a certain threshold. Farm Assist acts as an income supplement providing a top-up to bring incomes in line with social protection thresholds.

     From March 21st, the maximum weekly rate of Farm Assist payments increased by €5 to €198 as part of increases to social protection payments announced in Budget 2018.

    The IFA Farm Assist Calculator is available in the Farm Finance Section of the IFA Website at https://www.ifa.ie/farm-finance/farm-assist-calculator/

  • The IFA say there are still a number of farmers in Achill and in Sligo that are awaiting payments which were stopped over fires on their land.

    This saga has been ongoing for the best part of nine months.

    Numerous meetings have taken place over the past while, however there a still a lot of people out of pocket according to Eddie Davitt who is the Rural Development Chairman for the IFA in Sligo.

  • The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association are insisting that current Commission proposals under the CAP Reform relating to the protection of wetlands and peatlands, referred to as Carbon rich soils does not become another designation.

    Gerry Loftus of the INHFA says that land designations implemented over 20 years ago remain a major issue for many farmers.

    Farmers on designated land were he added “sold out despite having pristine habitats that are critically important for our flora and fauna.” For some he stated “the designations undermined their farming activity and left them vulnerable under land eligibility inspections.”

  • Any environmental changes which will be required in the agricultural sector will cost money – and the bulk of the adjustments will have to be made by the dairy sector, according to director of Teagasc Professor Gerry Boyle.

    Professor Boyle was speaking after Teagasc’s report yesterday which found that dairy farms produce three times more greenhouse gas emissions than beef enterprises.

    The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association has been reacting to the report and Professor Boyle’s comments.

    Gerry Loftus, who is also a member of the association’s committee on forestry and climate change, says that not all farmers are equal and it would not fair to penalise all farmers in the same manner when it comes to combating climate change.

    He said they are happy to see that Teagasc has recognised this in this report and that rural Ireland is at a disadvantage when it comes to agriculture and profit margins in farming.

    It is believed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change’s report of recommendations, due to be published tomorrow will recommend a “fundamental redirection of Irish agriculture” away from a reliance on dairy and beef and move towards horticulture.

  • An interim scheme needs to be put in place for farmers who are coming out of the AEOS scheme and cannot enter GLAS.

    That's according to Mayo-based Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway-Walsh who raised the issue this week at a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture.

    Department officials confirmed that, for farmers in this position, there will not be a scheme in place until after 2021.

    Senator Conway-Walsh says it's unfair to leave these farmers for two years without a scheme, facing a significant drop in income, and she's calling on the Agriculture Minister to put an interim scheme in place for those leaving AEOS that were excluded from GLAS.

  • People are being encouraged to find out where their food comes from by visiting a farm this bank holiday Monday.

    Four farms around the country are opening their gates for National Open Farm Day on the 7th May.

    One of the farms is that of Padraic & Breege Joyce in Castlebar.

    It comes as new figures show that 1 in ten Irish people have never been to a farm while a third haven't been on one in 5 years.

  • A Mayo Senator is calling for an investigation into the prices being paid by meat factories to farmers for beef. Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway Walsh has called for an investigation into whether or not a cartel is in operation by a small number of factories.

    She raised the matter at the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture earlier this week.

     Representatives of three farming organisations were present – the IFA, the ICMSA and the INHFA.

    The Senator believes that the low prices being paid by factories to farmers at present means that many farmers in this region can no longer afford to continue in beef production.