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Before yesterdayFarming – Connacht Tribune

East Galway farmer lost 13 sheep in a savage dog attack

By Francis Farragher

A FARMER near Ballinasloe had 13 sheep killed in a savage attack by dogs in the last weekend in June leading to calls for a far stricter regime in relation to the control of dogs.

The farmer in question from the Clontuskert area – who asked that his name not be used – told the Farming Tribune that 13 sheep were killed in the attack that happened on the Saturday night/Sunday morning of June 27/28.

The grim discovery was made on the Sunday morning of June 28 with the sheep death toll initially standing at 12 while in the days after a 13th animal died – ewes, hoggets and lambs were victims of the savage attack.

Local people believe that up to three dogs were involved in the attack that has led to the farmer involved suffering damages amounting to several thousand euro.

“It was an awful sight and while we’ve had the odd case of a dog troubling our sheep before, we’ve never had anything like this happening before. It’s an awful loss but it’s shocking cruelty to the animals as well,” the farmer told the Farming Tribune.

However, this is not the first such case of widespread losses being suffered by sheep farmers in the Clontuskert area with another farmer in the area also having suffered major losses over recent months.

This week, Galway IFA have called for more resources to be allocated for the dog warden service in the county to help try and control the problem of canines not being kept under control.

Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, told the Farming Tribune that the carnage and cruelty being caused by roaming dogs just had to be stopped.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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‘Back to basics’ in new REPS

By Francis Farragher

THE new Government is ‘absolutely committed’ to a new €1.5 billion REPS scheme that will recognise and reward the environmental role of farmers in the West of Ireland, Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte, has stated this week.

The Minister of State at the Dept. of Children, Disability and Equality, said that the role farmers were playing currently – ‘and down through the generations’ – in looking after the environment, had to be rewarded.

“Farmers – and especially those in the West of Ireland – are farming in a grass-based system where there are natural boundaries of hedgerows, natural briars and bushes, that provide a near perfect setting for biodiversity.

“We want to try and get away from a situation where farmers were encouraged to cut and chop natural vegetation from around their boundary and internal walls to one where they nurture such natural habitats,” Anne Rabbitte told the Farming Tribune.

She said that as of this week, the Dept. of Agriculture was going ‘full steam ahead’ in putting the framework and details in place for the new REPS scheme that would recognise the ‘critically essential role’ that farming was playing in terms of carbon sequestration and the nurturing of biodiversity while also trying to ‘minimise paperwork’.

“I think that over recent years, what may have been overlooked is the role that farmers have played down through the generations in protecting the environment. It’s been a role that often has been completely understated and often farmers themselves haven’t been aware of the many positive things that they were doing in this regard as they went about their daily business,” said Anne Rabbitte.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Farmers warned to watch out for scammers

By Francis Farragher

FARMERS have been warned to be wary of scammers – purporting to be ringing from Revenue – seeking their bank or credit card details.

The calls are showing up with an 051 code (ostensibly the Waterford area), with the recipient of the contact being informed that they are due a tax rebate.

To ‘facilitate’ this fictitious rebate they are then asked for their bank or credit details to facilitate the refund – Gardaí have advised that this is just another one of the many phone scams doing the rounds.

Connacht IFA Chair, Pat Murphy, told the Farming Tribune that a number of farmers had received calls from such numbers over recent weeks.

“I suppose the first advice is to hang up immediately on any of these calls and never, ever give any of your personal details of any description to someone contacting you in such a manner.

“Revenue, banks or any other legitimate businesses will never seek personal details like this by way of a random call, text or email, so just be on your guard as regards any such approach,” said Pat Murphy.

Sergeant Michael Walsh, Galway Crime Prevention Officer, told the Farming Tribune, that this was just one of a number of scams that continued to do the rounds by criminals seeking to defraud people.

“What we have seen as well over the past couple of months is scams where the word COVID is included in the website in the hope of luring people to that particular website.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Low incomes pose threat to future of farming in West

By Francis Farragher

LOW incomes on West of Ireland farms – and especially so on beef enterprises – pose a threat to the future of farming in the region, it was warned this week following the release of the 2019 Teagasc National Farm Survey statistics.

The Teagasc figures indicated that the average annual income of cattle farmers across the country came in at just €9,182 – such enterprises ‘backbone’ farming in the West.

Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, told the Farming Tribune that the latest figures showed that the average returns on beef enterprises was well under the annual social welfare payment of €10,000.

“This level of return is simply not sustainable for farmers who often work seven-day weeks and up to 16-hours a day.

“With such a low-level of return from cattle and sheep farms in the West, there is a real worry about the next generation and their willingness to take over an enterprise that generates very low levels of income,” said Anne Mitchell.

She added that over half the farmers in the West of Ireland were dependent on off-farm income to survive financially. “Incomes from beef and sheep enterprises in the West need a boost if we are to sustain this way of life into future generations,” said Anne Mitchell.

She also added that the IFA and farmers had serious concerns over the failure of the new Government to have one senior Government minister ‘from Donegal to Limerick’ in the new Cabinet.                                                                               

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Rural Galway has largely avoided the COVID virus

By Francis Farragher

LARGE swathes of rural Galway have avoided any case of the COVID-19 virus, according to the latest data released in a Dept. of Health/CSO coronavirus incidence rate map of Ireland (see map alongside).

Large parts of West and South Connemara along with major areas in North, East and South Galway, have also escaped having any case of the dreaded virus.

As to be expected, the highest rate of infection is in the Galway city area, according to the figures that cover the period from the start of the virus in Ireland to June 12 last.

Two areas in the West with meat plants – near Athleague and Ballyhaunis – showed higher than average rates of COVID incidence as compared to the rest of the region.

Up to June 12 last, the total number of coronavirus cases in Galway stood at 484, with nine people having died from the infection.

Although Galway has roughly twice the population of Mayo (c. 258,000 versus 130,000), the number of COVID-19 cases in Mayo, up to June 12, was 554 with 41 deaths.

Tuam councillor, Pete Roche – located in the heart of rural Galway in Abbeyknockmoy – said, that in all probability, the reason for the low rate of the infection in County Galway was related to the high level of compliance with the guidelines.

“There was also a lot of fear out there in the early days of the emergency guidelines but I would have to say that the vast, vast majority of people were really brilliant in terms of complying with what was asked of them.

“While it has been a tough few months, there were also many positive aspects in the way people reacted to the crisis.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

€100 per head is sought in COVID ‘compo’

By Francis Farragher

A MINIMUM payment of €100 per finished animal is being sought by the IFA as ‘a central plank’ of the €50 million Beef Scheme, announced earlier this month by Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed.

The IFA have made a 16-point submission to the Dept. of Agriculture which includes the minimum payment rate request of €100 per finished animal, to be paid retrospectively from the date of the Minister’s announcement on June 12 last.

They also want all finished cattle to be covered in the scheme, including steers, heifers, young bulls and cows – with the exceptions of cows having a conformation score P and fat score 1, and calves.

IFA Livestock Chairman, Brendan Golden, said that the details of the scheme had to be farmer friendly with no conditionality attached to the drawdown of the payments. Among the other points of the scheme sought by the IFA are:

■ There should be no restrictive limit on the number of eligible animals per farm qualifying.

■ The full funding of €50 million must be utilised and paid out to farmers with no portion of the fund to be left unused. Dealers and factory owners to be excluded.

■ Payments should be eligible applicants on or before the end of August so as ease financial/cashflow difficulties.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play

 

Guarded welcome for agri plans in Govt. programme

By Francis Farragher

FRANCIS FARRAGHER looks at different aspects of what’s proposed for agriculture in the FF, FG and Green Party Programme for Government.

WEST of Ireland farm leaders have given a guarded welcome to the agri-rural section of the Programme for Government agreed this week by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

The retention of the Nitrates Derogation; no restrictions on live exports; and a new REPS style environmental scheme have been welcomed by the IFA.

However, farm leaders have cautioned that the implementation of the programme for the agri-rural sector will be monitored closely to ensure that pledges made are followed through.

Galway IFA Chairperson, Pat Murphy, told the Farming Tribune that the new environmental scheme should be very good news for the West of Ireland on the presumtion that it would be low on red-tape while at the same time delivering a meaningful financial reward.

“We all know that the environment and environmental issues are the future and farmers are more than willing to play their part in this whole process.

“Farmers are enthusiastic about making positive contributions on environmental matters but the paperwork must be kept to a minimum while the financial compensation must be realistic in terms of making their enterprises viable,” said Pat Murphy.

He also said that the commitment to set up an independent appeals procedure for farmers who had faced penalties under the various schemes was to be welcomed. “The current appeals system is totally unfair and had to change,” said Pat Murphy.

He also said that there was a sense of relief that there was nothing in the Programme for Government as regards getting rid of the Nitrates Derogation and the live export of Irish cattle.

“The Nitrates Derogation is an essential for dairy farmers. If it was got rid of, it would have implications in terms of dairy farmers having to acquire more land to supply their feed needs, making land more expensive either to buy or rent,” said Pat Murphy.

He said that the IFA had lobbied intensively on issues like the environmental scheme, the Nitrates Directive and live exports over recent weeks, adding that their work had ‘paid off’.

“The push will be continuing to deliver a better Sheep Welfare and Suckler Cow scheme. We are still seeking a payment of €300 per suckler cow and €30 per ewe from the new Government.

“Suckler cow farmers along the Western Seaboard counties are the basis of the Irish beef industry producing the quality cattle that backbone the whole industry.

“What seems to have emerged from the Programme for Government is a first step along the way in what we are trying to achieve. The pledges are there but now, over the coming months, it’s action we need,” said Pat Murphy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

New €10k REPS scheme sought by IFA

By Francis Farragher

A PROPERLY funded environmental scheme – with annual payments of up to €10,000 per farmer – must be part of the new CAP (Common Agriculture Policy), according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell.

She said that in the IFA’s latest submission to the Dept. of Agriculture on post-2020 CAP, the case for the proper funding of environmental schemes had been strongly put forward – she welcomed the inclusion of a ‘new REPS’ in the Programme for Government announced this week.

“The benefits farmers and agriculture provide in carbon sequestration must be recognised and rewarded in REPS- type (Rural Environmental Protection Scheme) scheme. Farmers will put in the work but the payments must be meaningful,” said Anne Mitchell.

She said that the IFA had strongly stressed to the Dept. of Agriculture the importance of ‘fully accounting’ for all rural carbon sinks such as grassland, hedgerows, crops, peatlands and forestry.

“There must also be recognition for the cyclical nature of methane in GHG emissions accounting methodology,” said Anne Mitchell.

She added that the IFA’s central message to Government was the contradiction between policies like Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity strategy on the one hand – and a proposed cut to the CAP Budget on the other.

“Extra asks have to mean extra funding. The next Government cannot stand over a situation where funding is cut – it has to be increased,” she said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

The new normal as marts return with online extras

By Francis Farragher

IT was back to business at Tuam Mart on Monday when they held their first public auction sale since mid-March – backed up a new online bidding system set up by the Irish Farmers Journal.

Tuam Mart Manager, Marion Devane, told the Farming Tribune, that the re-opening of the mart had been a huge success with around 300 cattle on offer – a large number for a Summer sale.

“It was different. We had all the spaces marked out for the buyers and the sellers came in as their animals were being sold, but overall it worked, and we got great co-operation from everyone,” she said.

Marion Devane also thanked the two auctioneers – Pat Burke and Peter McDonagh – for their implementation of the online bidding system, with bids taken for stock as they came into the ring from bidders on their home or office laptops or phones.

“The online app offers another opportunity to bid for and buy stock without being physically present at the mart – and it’s all good for competition,” said Marion Devane.

The new online buying of cattle at marts is called MartBids and has been developed by the Irish Farmers Journal in partnership with the livestock marts.

Tuam is the latest mart to ‘come on board’ with MartBids as well as Balla, Castlerea, Nenagh, Kilkenny, Roscrea and Elphin.

According to Irish Farmers Journal editor, Justin McCarthy, COVID-19 has transformed the way people do business, with marts being no different.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Drought fears as growth falters

By Francis Farragher

THERE are growing concerns in western farming circles this week over early-summer, drought-like conditions that have greatly stunted growth.

With rainfall amounts continuing to be very small through the early days of June – following a very dry April and May period – many farmers are reporting close to zero re-growth where silage has been cut or pastures have been grazed down.

Abbeyknockmoy farmer and weather recorder, Brendan Geraghty, told the Farming Tribune that ‘a good day’s rain’ was now badly needed to kick-start regrowth in pastures across the region.

Through the entire month of May, he recorded just 1.24 inches of rainfall (31.5mms) – his total for April was 1.55 inches (40mms.) with the dry trend continuing through the first week of June.

“It is approaching a drought situation with many rivers just down to a trickle and the main problem seems to be with regrowth.

“Where pastures have been tightly grazed or where silage has been cut, there is very little by way of regrowth. Over the past week or so, you can see the colour change in the fields,” said Brendan Geraghty.

He also said that there were reliable reports from some of the more intensive farming sectors in the southern part of the country of this year’s silage having to be ‘opened up’ to meet the feed needs of their dairy herds.

Brendan Geraghty said that the cumulative total of rainfall so far in the first week in June had only amounted to a ‘few showers’ which had made absolutely no impression on soils that were by now ‘bone-dry’.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

Badger cull is needed in battle to halt TB

By Francis Farragher

A WORSENING bovine TB problem in parts of Galway will not be resolved until a controlled cull of the badger population is put in place, according to a prominent IFA representative.

Connacht IFA Chair and Ardrahan farmer, Pat Murphy, told the Farming Tribune that despite the best efforts of farmers bovine TB was on the increase in parts of the county.

He said that in recent years, he had been one of the farmers impacted upon by the rise in the incidence of TB   the problem was still quite serious in parts of South Galway, he added.

“There is only so much farmers can do in terms of fencing, water troughs, hygiene and co-operating with the Department in a badger vaccination programme.

“From my own experience – and that of many farmers I’ve spoken to and dealt with over recent years – I feel that unless that a controlled badger cull is carried out, our battle against bovine TB will continue to be a lost cause,” said Pat Murphy.

He said he wanted to make it quite clear that there was no question of farmers trying to ‘wipe out’ badgers but given that they had no natural predators, their numbers needed to be curtailed.

“I believe that even for the good of the badger population, it would be better if the diseased animals were taken out: they will end up having a slow and cruel death.

“The vaccination programme is not working – and has not worked in the past – we just have to face up to that reality.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

Spoiled for choice in field of agri-education

By Our Reporter

By Serena Gibbons is Education Officer with Teagasc Galway/Clare

THE delivery of the Galway/Clare Teagasc Education courses in February 2020 and the delivery as we enter the twelfth week of COVID-19 restrictions couldn’t be more different.

In February we were busy completing sheep and beef skills on farms with the Level 5 classes, while the Level 6 classes were busy in computer room and classroom completing the final phase of their course.

Thankfully, with the use of Zoom, group phone calls, online exams and the replacement of written exams with assignments, we have been in a position to continue classes and complete the term on schedule.

Before March 12th, very few of us knew what a Zoom call was; now we are using Zoom calls for both work and family life, keeping us all in touch while we are forced to stay apart during the lockdown.

We have received a lot of calls regarding the Green Cert course options over the last few months, as people have more time to gather their thoughts on the next step in their education.

Below are the three main options available to students considering the Green Cert in the Galway/Clare Region.

A – The Distance Course

This course is ONLY available to students who have a FETAC Major Level 6 or higher qualification in a non-agricultural area.

Delivered over an 18 month period, students attend college for a total of 25 days during this  period. These college days take place on normal working days (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm), usually one day/month with a block of five days at the end of the course.

The course fee is €2,990 payable on commencement of course. Additional information for this course is available at www.teagasc.ie/ecollege – students can contact the centre of choice directly for enrolment information.

The Distance Courses are available at the following centres: Ballyhaise, 049-4338108; Pallaskenry, 061-393100; Gurteen, 067-21282; Kildalton,       051-644400; Mountbellew, 09096-79205;

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Plan for who will take over ‘the place’

By Francis Farragher

ALMOST nine out of 10 farmers have no definite farm succession plan in place, according to the findings of the latest ifac National Farm Survey.

The survey also found that one out of every three farmers avoids the issue, on the basis that the business is not viable enough: they would not encourage the next generation to take it on.

Connacht IFA Chair, Pat Murphy, told the Farming Tribune that the indications from the survey were concerning and he asked all farmers to consider the issue of succession.

“This is not about handing over the farm straight away but what it is about is the putting in place of a long-term plan for the next generation.

“We’ll all only be ‘wearing the jersey’ for a limited period and the time to plan ahead is when in you’re in good health and in good form and can make an informed decision on the future of your farm,” said Pat Murphy.

He said farmers should ‘have a conversation’ with their solicitor, their accountant, and most importantly of all, with those who were nearest and dearest to them, on their future plans for the farm.

“I think that the last thing any farmer would want is to leave the farm in such a way where are disputes and wrangles, after he or she has gone.

“We all know that on most farms there is a very limited income generation power but the last thing that’s needed is for a dispute to arise when the farmer has passed on,” said Pat Murphy.

The ifac (Irish Farm Accounts Co-operative) study combined the views of almost 1,500 Irish farmers along with a comprehensive analysis of the financial data from over 2,500 sets of its clients’ 2019 farm accounts.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Sack those involved in machinery pranks

By Francis Farragher

FARM or contractors’ employees who engage in – and record pranks with farm machinery on social media – should be sacked, according to IFA President, Tim Cullinan.

He said that with eight farm fatalities already this year, anyone engaging in such pranks ‘should have a hard look at themselves’ as too often people weren’t willing to act responsibly and identify risks.

“This practice [machinery pranks on social media] is grossly irresponsible and is an accident waiting to happen. I am disgusted that people could be so casual and have no regard for the dangers involved in what they are doing.

“All farmers and contractors need to make it clear to their employees that engaging in these practices is a sackable offence,” said Tim Cullinan. Most of the machinery pranks appear on the TikTok social media site.

Last month, Director of Embrace Farm, Eyrecourt’s Peter Gohery – who himself lost a leg in a PTO farm accident – expressed his anguish and horror at some of the things appearing on social media involving so-called farm stunts.

In one of them, a young lad featured playing an accordion inside a diet feeder that was attached to a tractor; another showed a woman being lifted in the front loader bucket of a tractor; while a third one showed someone filming themselves as they were being attacked by an aggressive cow.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Fears of late Ross move on Greenways

By Francis Farragher

THE IFA are on ‘red alert’ that outgoing Transport Minister, Shane Ross, may try in ‘one last dying kick’ to push through a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) regime for the Greenways project.

Minister Ross – who lost his Dáil seat in the February General Election – has been asked by the IFA to ‘shelve’ any further discussions on Greenways until the current COVID-19 pandemic has passed and/or until a new Minister and Government is in place.

The Draft Code of Best Practice and Guide Process for the National Greenways Project still contains a clause that ‘the available legal mechanisms’ for the purchase of land ‘may need to be considered’.

In a submission to the National IFA Environmental Committee, Galway IFA has reiterated their ‘vehement opposition’ to the imposition of the CPO process in developing Greenways.

They also point out that Greenways must remain a ‘non-critical infrastructural development’ while the selection of a Greenway route must prioritise the preference of the largest number of landowners.

The IFA also want all Greenways to take a route adjacent to field boundaries unless otherwise agreed with the landowner while high-quality screening should be ‘an unquestionable option’ for any landowner or adjacent landowner – erected at no cost to the landowners.

Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, said that there was a real concern among farmers that the Transport Minister was trying to ‘push through’ the Greenways project with CPOs.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Breakdown in contact tracing at meat plants

By Francis Farragher

REPORTS of employers being notified of COVID-19 test results before the employees had been informed – as revealed last week by Roscommon-Galway TD, Denis Naughten – have been confirmed this week by Health Minister, Simon Harris.

Deputy Naughten said this week that the latest confirmation on the circulation of the medical test results – involving nursing homes and meat plants – showed that the most basic data protection rights of individuals had been ignored by the HSE.

He also told the Farming Tribune that the whole handling of the series of coronavirus outbreaks that had occurred in meat plants all across the country raised serious issues about the HSE’s contact tracing process.

“I think that the real fear over those failures is that they could lead to a second surge in the spread of the COVID-19 virus after so much good work has so far been put in by so many people,” said Deputy Naughten.

He said that it had emerged from the clusters of cases in the country’s meat plants was that workers had been allowed to return to their employment before they had received the results of their coronavirus tests.

Deputy Naughten also said that it had been implied that delays in test results had been because of problems in contacting employees who were not from Ireland – however, he said, examples he had provided of delayed results were of Irish people.

“The one conclusion I have come to is that the contact tracing system simply does not seem to be working properly and this has major implications for all of us as we battle against this virus over the coming months,” Deputy Naughten told the Farming Tribune.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Marts plan for a June return

By Francis Farragher

MARTS in Galway expect to be returning to some kind of normality from Monday, June 8 next, when they will be allowed to re-open for public sales as Phase 2 of the COVID-19 National Programme kicks in.

On June 8, marts along with small retail outlets, will be allowed to re-open for business – but only on the basis of strict social distancing practices being observed as controls relating to numbers.

Marts have been closed down for public sales since March 25 last when more severe coronavirus restrictions were announced by Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.

However, since then, marts have received clearance to proceed with limited sales of sheep and cattle between buyers and sellers, although the numbers would have been well down as compared to the conventional sales.

Athenry Mart Committee Chairman, Michael Francis Murphy, told the Farming Tribune that while the arrangements in place for the last six weeks or so had worked well, they were looking forward to a restoration of the normal sales.

“Before the closure came into place towards the end of March, we already had in place social distancing measures so we will be ready to go from June 8 on.

“It is encouraging for the marts and the farming community to see a return to more normal sales activity and we are all looking forward to the marts reopening,” said Michael Francis Murphy.

He said that since the restricted sales had come into place, Athenry Mart had still managed to sustain strong weekly transactions for cattle and sheep.

Tuam Mart Manager, Marion Devane, also welcomed the return of ‘normal sales’ from June 8 next, but added that everyone would have to play their part in terms of complying with the social distancing regulations.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Safety first plea as silage starts

By Francis Farragher

A SPECIAL plea has been issued to contractors, farmers and all road-users to put an extra special emphasis on safety as the summer silage season approaches.

With so many people home-based due to the coronavirus emergency, the number of pedestrians, runners and cyclists, has increased dramatically since the COVID-19 restrictions started to kick-in from late last March.

IFA President, Tim Cullinan, has asked all tractor drivers to bear in mind that ‘around every corner could be a neighbouring family or friend out for a walk, jog or a cycle’ within 5km of their homes.

“We should all expect the unexpected – we have learned already this year, whether it be on the farm or on the road, that there is no place for complacency,” he said.

The safety appeal has been issued jointly this week by the IFA and the RSA (Road Safety Authority) with an emphasis on the fact that the numbers of people walking, jogging and cycling on country roads has increased dramatically since the start of the coronavirus emergency.

Largely fine weather since March 18 last has also meant that many more people are using the network of country roads for exercising – the RSA has warned that this increases the need for greater care and awareness by drivers over the coming weeks and months.

Michael Rowland, Director Road Safety Research and Driver Education, RSA, said that this year they were asking drivers of farm machinery to ‘be more aware than ever’ of what was going on around them.

“With increased numbers of people of all ages out walking, running and cycling it is imperative that we all take greater care and follow the rules of the road.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Queries on imports of beef need answering

By Francis Farragher

QUESTIONS need to be answered as to why Ireland imported nearly €129 million worth of beef last year, according to West Galway Fianna Fáil TD, Eamon Ó Cuív.

The scale of beef imports into the Republic of Ireland was revealed to Deputy Ó Cuív in a Dáil reply given to him last month by Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

In his reply, Minister Creed, gave the tonnage of imported beef into Ireland in 2019 as 30,570 tonnes to a total value of €128.83 million.

Beef imports into Ireland for the months of January and February, 2020, came to 4,282 tonnes equating to a total value of €19.07 million.

Deputy Ó Cuív said that it was his understanding that the bulk of this imported beef into Ireland was coming from Poland. “So, we need to know is this imported beef being processed in Irish meat plants,” he said.

He added that one of the real concerns among Irish farmers was whether the importing of this beef was taking place in an effort to depress the local market and price paid to Irish beef producers.

“We are a huge exporter of Irish beef which has a fantastic reputation all over the world. It’s worth billions of euro to our economy so where do these exports fit into the picture?” asked Deputy Ó Cuív.

According to the figures supplied in the Dáil reply by Minister Creed, in 2019, Ireland exported 528,220 tonnes of beef, valued at €2.348 billion.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Extended dry spell is now set to extend into mid-May

By Francis Farragher

AN extended dry spell through most of the month of April – following on from a very dry end to March – has made it a very good Spring for the farming community, according to North Galway weather recorder Brendan Geraghty.

The Abbeyknockmoy farmer – who has rainfall records dating back to the 1940s – said that it was pretty much a ‘perfect month’ for farming with last week’s rain just coming at the right time.

He said that the extended dry spell had ran from March 21 until the rains that arrived on the last few days of April.

From April 1 to 28, Brendan Geraghty only recorded two rain days – the 3rd and 15th – which between them produced just 0.28 inches (7.1mms.) of rainfall.

With soils drying up completely from around the middle of April and soil moisture deficits last week getting close to the 50mms. mark, growth was beginning to get seriously impaired.

The rains of Wednesday, April 29 – a lot of it in a morning downpour – however have replenished soil moisture levels: on that day, Brendan Geraghty recorded a rainfall level of 0.97 inches (24.6mms.).

His overall rainfall total for the month came in at 1.55 inches (nearly 40mms.) well down on his ‘average’ for the last seven Aprils of 1.98 inches (50.3mms.).

However, Brendan Geraghty pointed out that since 2014, April has turned out to be quite a dry month with no monthly rainfall total reaching three inches (76.2mms.).

“It is worth nothing that April has been quite a dryish Spring month over recent years – in 2017, it was particularly dry with only 0.33 inches (8.4mms.) or rainfall,” said Brendan Geraghty.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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