Sligo News File
There were strong exchanges in the Dail when last weekend a South of Ireland Deputy challenged agriculture Minister Michael Creed over his handling of the fodder crisis.
TD Mattie McGrath spoke of conditions in “Tipperary, east Waterford, south Kilkenny and east Cork, as well as other parts of the country” where he said farmers were “completely burned by the drought.”
He said: “The Minister has made no real effort to address this.
“I would love to know what inducements he is giving to stakeholders to come up with the figures he has given us. The situation on the ground is very different and many farmers have huge issues with not having enough fodder and no way of getting funding. The banks effectively are not working and the money announced in last year’s budget was not drawn down, while this year’s budget was a damp squib for agriculture.
“Suckler herds are on their knees and farmers in that sector wanted €200 per cow, but the Minister gave them €40, but one must weigh calves and their mothers, meaning the farmers must spend €50 to get €40. The Minister’s treatment of farmers is farcical.”
Creed: “The Deputy should reflect seriously on the accusation he has made against Teagasc to the effect that it has manipulated figures. It conducted a national fodder survey, the veracity of which has been accepted by all stakeholders. I accept that within the national deficit of 11%; there are individual holdings where it is higher. The best outcome from the stakeholder forum was the advice from the advisory services, namely, Teagasc, private advisers or co-operatives. The Deputy should reflect on his charge that a State organisation has manipulated figures.”
McGrath: “It has questions to answer.”
Creed: “The Deputy is seeking a cheap headline. It is rather unfortunate to try to make a cheap political point on the backs of farmers, who have had an extremely difficult year.”
McGrath: “The farmers have sleepless nights. Certain others do not.”
Creed: “It is a hit-and-run effort by Deputy Mattie McGrath. He will not even stay for the rest of Question Time.”
McGrath: “The Minister does not even run or hit.”
The post Farmers must weigh calves and their mothers at cost of €50 to qualify for €40 subsidy – McGrath appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
The ICSA have taken their protest over beef prices to the door of Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis just weeks after similar demonstration outside ABP in Clones.
Commenting on the move, chairman of the Association’s national beef committee Edmund Graham said beef sector producers “have been crucified by beef price cuts” in a year when substantial extra costs were incurred owing to extreme weather conditions.
He said farmers had faced “an orchestrated effort to drive down beef prices over several weeks,” but the price cutting had now stopped since the ICSA took action against the practice on the 5th of October.
Explaining the reason for the ongoing protest, he said the association “now want to drive price back up and no farmer should dream of selling steers this week at less than €3.85.
“Current prices are totally inadequate when costs of production are at least €4.40/kg for cattle from the dairy herd, he said. The suckler herd is not profitable unless the price is closer to €5/kg.
President of the Association, Patrick Kent said the ICSA was sending a very clear message to retailers that beef farmers were being exploited.
“There will be no hiding place for retailers now who claim they are supporting farmers. Retailers cannot boast about sustainable beef and then profiteer when farmers are not even getting the cost of production.
“Retailers and processors need to wake up to the fact that there will be no sustainable beef if they continue to squeeze the primary producer.
“ICSA is calling for a halt to the exploitation of family farms.”
He also hit out at the failure of new international markets to deliver strong prices for farmers.
“Compared to five years ago we have seen the opening of markets in the USA, China, South East Asia and this week Kuwait. Yet there has been no benefit to farmers and prices today are weaker than five years ago.”
“ICSA is sending out a strong message that farmers cannot stand idly by as their livelihoods are being decimated. This is the second day of action and unless prices improve further disruption cannot be ruled out,” he warned.
The post ICSA protest over beef prices at Mayo’s Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File
Fianna Fail spokesman on business Eamon Scanlon has said that the government still hasn’t rolled out the Brexit loan scheme for farmers announced in the budget a year ago.
Speaking of the pressure being faced by small family farmers, the Sligo-Leitrim TD said: “Costs have risen, sterling price fluctuations have increased uncertainty, we have had fodder shortages and there are real fears about what the winter ahead could hold.
“All of these issues are further complicated by Brexit, which is now less than six months away.”
More measures are needed to support family farms in the face of sustained price volatility and the impending impact of Brexit,” he said.
The suckler cow scheme announced in the Budget does not go as far as we would like, it is a starting point. “I am hopeful that this payment can be increased in the coming months.
“The additional €23m in ANC funding will also provide a welcome relief to farmers in the North West, but we need to ensure the full restoration of the fund in the next budget.
“I am, however, concerned about the Minister’s handling of Brexit preparations – or lack thereof. In Budget 2018 he announced a €25m Brexit loan scheme for farmers. We’re still waiting for that scheme to open. Minister Creed appears to be completely oblivious to the difficulties facing small family farmers in the west of Ireland. The reality is that without the adequate supports, they will not survive.”
Adding that he wants to see the Minister take control of the situation and deliver the supports promised more than 12 months ago, he warned “any further delays could prove disastrous for our farming communities.”
Sligo News File
ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed the €40 for weighing calves announced in today’s budget. “ICSA asked Minister Creed for this in 2016 as a means of making the BDGP more accurate and rewarding farmers for putting real information into the ICBF database. An accurate calf weight is a real measure of how a cow is performing because it captures genetic potential for growth as well as milk.”
Mr Kent also welcomed the full restoration of the ANC payment which was slashed during the downturn. “This has been a real loss of income to our most disadvantaged farmers and it is high time it was restored.”
He also welcomed the extension of stock reliefs for another three years and the three year extension of stamp duty exemption for young farmers.
However, Mr Kent was more critical of other taxation measures. “The minor level of improvement on earned income tax credits and on the Category A thresholds for Capital Acquisitions Tax represent at best a begrudging admission that they are worthwhile and at worst a rowing back of the ambition set out in previous budgets. The earned income tax credit was only increased by €200 to €1,350 as happened last year as well.
“But the various reports on taxation have highlighted that there is a serious inequality with PAYE workers who qualify for a credit of €1,650. When Minister Noonan began the process of rectifying this blatant unfairness for self-employed workers it was indicated that it would be done over three budgets with an increase of €550 each time. We are now looking at this process being dragged out over seven years. There is no justification for this.
“Similarly, the increase in the Group A threshold for CAT covering gifts and inheritances has to be seen in the context that the thresholds were cut severely in the past and that there is an acceptance that the current level exposes many people to heavy tax burdens on taking over the family business.”
Mr Kent said that many farmers would be amazed at the substantial increase in afforestation money compared to what is being directed at livestock farming. “There is a serious question over blanket sitka spruce plantations both in terms of climate change and impact on rural communities.”
Diesel fuels rural economy
However, Mr Kent welcomed no increase in carbon taxes on fuel which he said did nothing to change behaviour for rural motorists who no option except to use diesel for transport.
“Diesel fuels the rural economy and there is no realistic alternative for agricultural machinery or for haulage of inputs and outputs in rural areas.”
The post ICSA Budget Reaction: ‘payment for weighing calves a good move’ appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association has protested outside ABP over what they have denounced as “an orchestrated effort” by meat factories to drive down prices being paid to beef farmers.
“Farmers in the beef sector have been crucified by beef price cuts in a year when they have substantial extra costs due to extreme weather,” said the chairman of the association’s national beef committee chairman Edmund Graham.
He said: “It is beyond belief that in a year like this when farmers are on their knees with extra cost arising from a fodder crisis that the meat industry would seek to increase profits on the back of farmers.
Orchestrated effort to drive down price
Referring to what he described as “an orchestrated effort to drive down price at a rate of 5c/kg/week,”, he said “the current price of €3.70/kg is totally inadequate when costs
of production are at least €4.40/kg for cattle from the dairy herd. Meanwhile, the suckler herd is not profitable unless price is closer to €5/kg.”
Declaring it was time for farmers to fight back, he said: “We cannot go on working for nothing and risking substantial capital finishing cattle especially as we enter the expensive winter finishing period.”
He also hit out at the failure of new international markets to deliver strong prices for the farming sector. “Compared to five years ago we have seen the opening of markets in the USA, China, South East Asia and this week Kuwait. Yet there has been no benefit to farmers and prices today are weaker than five years ago.
“Meat factories and retailers love to talk about sustainable systems of beef production. ICSA believes that unless cattle farmer incomes are economically sustainable, all the rest is just pie in the sky.
Meat factories using their own feedlots to manipulate price
“The meat industry cannot be allowed drive farmers out of business. ICSA believes it is an unacceptable element of the sector that meat factories are using their own feedlots to manipulate price. The price cutting is also a way of subduing store cattle price with a view to getting cheaper cattle for their own feedlots.
“ICSA is sending out a strong message that farmers cannot stand idly by as their livelihoods are being decimated.
“Further action cannot be ruled out,” he warned.
The post Meat factories cutting price in one of the worst ever years for beef producers appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File
Lakeland and LacPatrick dairies are about to merge, according to BBC Northern Ireland.
It’s reported that the move is being backed by the boards of both co-operatives with the proposal now set to be placed before shareholders for a vote at the end of
A final decision will be subject to regulatory approval.
The proposed new co-operative would trade under the name Lakeland Dairies.
If approved, the merger, says the broadcaster, would make the operation Ireland’s second largest dairy co-operative, with a supplier base of more than 3,000 dairy farmers, and a combined annual turnover of over €1 billion.
According to a report by Shannonside FM News, former president of the ICMSA Pat O’Rourke has meanwhile stated that he believes the proposed merger makes perfect sense. O’Rourke, says the report, also believes that it’s only a matter of time before Aurivo and Lakeland will merge.
The post Merger of Lakeland and LacPatrick would make operation second largest dairy co-operative in Ireland appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association is to mount a major protest at ABP in Clones, Co. Monaghan, as processors continue to hammer beef farmers with price cuts.
A notice issued by the Association states that the protest is being staged at ABP commencing at 7am tomorrow, Friday, 5 October.
Chairman of ICSA beef committee Edmund Graham said the Association did not attend the Beef Forum early this week “owing to the lack of solidarity shown by processors to beef producers.
‘Farmers are on their knees’
“Never has this lack of solidarity been more evident than in the last few weeks.
“Farmers are on their knees, anger is mounting and factories have refused to engage with us in a meaningful way at the roundtable,” he added.
The post Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association protest over beef prices at ABP Clones appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
ICSA Animal Health & Welfare chairman Hugh Farrell has called on the Department to allow valuers to do their job when it comes to the live valuation system for TB reactors.
“When it comes to breeding stock, or animals with show potential, there has to be flexibility in the system to allow valuers to give an honest and true assessment of what an animal is worth. In these cases, average price ranges from thousands of animals sold in marts each week is meaningless.
“ICSA is concerned that too much subtle pressure is being put on valuers to avoid giving the real value of a high calibre cow or heifer. As it stands, the odds are stacked against a farmer who has TB reactors. While the farmer can appeal the valuation, so too can the Department. The panel is selected by the Department in the first case, but we hear stories of valuers being afraid that they will be removed from the panel if they are deemed too favourable to farmers.
“While everybody accepts that valuations should be accurate, it is manifestly the case that some animals, particularly breeding animals, can be worth several hundred euros in excess of the typical price. Penny pinching over this is a pointless exercise in the context of the overall budget because we are only talking about a very small minority of animals. However, where a farmer has spent years breeding livestock and has invested in having the best of stock, it is very upsetting and frustrating to see the Department second guessing experienced valuers. Moreover, the sense that valuers are looking over their shoulders all the time is out there and this is not acceptable.
“Unless there is a strong body of evidence that a valuer is continuously getting it wrong, the Department should accept that at times, there will be stock that are much more valuable than any paper exercise in average values.
“We also need to ensure that compensation for reactors adequately reflects the impact of the loss of the cow. In cases, the cow will be a reactor before the calf is ready for weaning and at the same time, the calf will not be saleable. This will result in a loss of value in the calf which needs to be reflected in the price paid for the cow.”
The post Allow valuers do their job on valuation of TB reactors says ICSA appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
The ICSA is hosting two sessions on the fodder crisis and mental health ahead of its 25th Anniversary dinner at Hotel Kilkenny on Friday 7th September. Both issues will be the topic of two breakout sessions commencing in the hotel at 6pm.
How can farmers deal with the current fodder shortage and winter fodder planning?
Martin Ryan, of the Technical Feed Support division with Glanbia Ireland, will be on hand to discuss technical and planning advice for livestock farmers impacted by the drought. Participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences and ideas on ways to overcome the fodder challenge, and the necessary supports needed.
Sponsored by Gain Nutrition.
Tackle Your Feelings is a mental wellbeing campaign run by Rugby Players Ireland in partnership with Zurich.
This 45-minute session will feature interactive discussion around the specific mental and emotional challenges faced by farmers. It will also offer tips and techniques for proactively improving mental wellbeing, well before any challenge becomes a crisis.
The session will be facilitated by Sport and Performance Psychologist and Tackle Your Feelings Campaign Manager, Créde Sheehy-Kelly.
Sponsored by Zurich.
The Anniversary dinner of the association will follow.
The post Impact of fodder crisis on farmer health to be discussed at ICSA anniversary dinner appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed the announcement by Minister Creed that €4.25 million has been allocated for the introduction of a Fodder Import Support Measure.
His association, he said, “has been calling for this and other measures to be put in place at the earliest possible point as part of the combined effort required to offset major fodder difficulties down the track.”
He went on to stress that while the ICSA is in favour of importing fodder, it must be of high quality and available at a fair price.
“Vigilance on quality and price towards imported feed must also, he said, “extend to cereals,
“Profit margins on suckler and sheep farms are practically non-existent at this point so if these enterprises are to have any hope of surviving it is imperative that access to quality feed at a reasonable price is secured.
“On home ground, we need to take a sensible approach and allow Low-Input Grassland to be baled, sooner rather than later.”
Concluding Mr Kent impressed upon millers to deliver the best possible value to farmers at this difficult time and reiterated that profiteering by meat plants must not be tolerated,
“It is incumbent on all players to protect the industry as a whole. We will not stand for primary producers being taken advantage of at this vulnerable time.”
Sligo News File
ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed confirmation by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan that state aid could be provided to deal with the damage caused by the drought and that flexibilities around GLAS rules should be forthcoming.
“ICSA has already called for a hardship fund to help those most affected by the drought, particularly low income cattle and sheep farmers and cereal growers. It is now time for the Minister to take immediate action.
“The Commissioner has indicated that support to fix drought problems is possible which includes buying fodder. He has confirmed that the purchase of fodder can qualify for aid as either material damage or income loss.
“However, this now requires a commitment from the Irish government to put some funding in place. This will be a real test of
whether the government cares about the incredible hardships faced by farmers this year. ICSA is not looking for an open cheque book; we want aid targeted at the most vulnerable farmers in the less profitable sectors.
“ICSA also welcomes the positive response for flexibilities around schemes and derogations from greening requirements. For example, it has already been confirmed by the Commission that there will be derogations from the three crop rule and to allow land lying fallow under ecological focus areas to be used for growing feed.
“ICSA also wants to see farmers to be allowed wrap bales on LIPP areas in GLAS and to have the deadline for spreading fertiliser extended beyond 15 September. We also need flexibility to allow
tillage farmers to sow westerwolds or other Italian ryegrasses which means abolishing the 15 December restriction.”
The post ICSA chief welcomes Hogan’s comments on drought assistance appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
The ICSA has appealed to all road users to be ‘on their guard’ during the Bank holiday weekend as beyond as farm activities intensify.
“It’s a busy time on farms, and there are increased numbers of tractors and other farm machinery using the roads,” the association’s rural development chairman, Seamus
Sherlock has warned.
He said that coinciding with the sunny spell and the bank holiday, “patience, as well as extreme caution, must be exercised by everybody using the roads.
“Silage cutting and slurry spreading are in full swing and farms are a hive of activity.”
The ICSA, he said, “is asking farmers to think about safety at all times and never to take unnecessary risks where machinery and equipment are concerned,”
“Slurry gas is also a silent killer and extremely dangerous. Slatted tank agitating points should not be left open for any longer than necessary.
“Farmers also need to be very careful to have proper PTO shafts in place on slurry and silage equipment. It only takes a split second lapse in concentration for accidents to happen, sometimes with tragic and fatal consequences.
“After one of the longest winters in living memory, many farmers are still trying to cope with the financial ramifications and stress associated with dealing with nine months of challenging conditions. It will take more than a few sunny days for farmers who experienced the perfect storm to recover. However, safety must be a priority at all times; it’s a busy time but let’s make it a safe and happy time for everyone,” he added.
The post Farm body urges ‘patience and extreme caution’ in safety warning to road users and agri community. appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
Crime hit rural Ireland is failing to avail of funding for community protecting camera surveillance systems.
The ICSA said money was allocated for CCTV but to date, the take up has been “minuscule.”
A ceremony in Waterford was told that figures released by the Department of Justice show that only 4% of the €3m CCTV funding available has been used.
“Reaching the halfway point in the scheme and with only €120,000 spent indicates a problem somewhere,” said chairman of the ICSA development committee Seamus Sherlock
He said: “An urgent review needs to be carried out at this stage to see how local communities can be further assisted with utilising the scheme.
“Of particular importance is clarification as to whether the Gardaí or local authorities are responsible managing the footage collected.”
Mr. Sherlock was speaking at an event in Waterford Institute of Technology to mark the official handing over of the Agricultural Crime in Ireland reports to the Luke Wadding library. The reports were compiled by Dr Kathleen Moore Walsh, a lecturer in Law and Criminology and Louise Walsh, a lecturer in Accounting and Finance, following the ICSA/WIT Agricultural Crime Survey.
The study examined crimes that occur solely on farms or relating to farming activities.
Mr. Sherlock said the nature and scale of agriculture-specific crime have been well and truly established with the survey and subsequent reports.
“Rural people want more resources in community policing, stiffer sentences for repeat offenders and closer consultation between rural stakeholders, local authorities and An Garda Siochana,” he said.
The post Lack of rural interest in State-funded community camera surveillance system, says ICSA appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File
ICSA is to mount a protest in opposition to the mandatory introduction of EID tagging for all sheep today, Monday 14 May.
ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has said that members of the ICSA sheep committee wish to highlight the mounting anger of sheep farmers against this unnecessary move.
Commenting Mr Brooks said, “The introduction of mandatory EID tagging will cost sheep farmers €2.5m per year. It has been done without warning or consultation at the behest of processors who are the only ones who will benefit. It is unacceptable that sheep farmers should bear all the cost.”
In addition Mr Brooks said, “ICSA is also deeply concerned about the chaotic rollout of the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) for sheep. We are demanding an immediate review of the implementation of the policy.”
The protest will take place at the Department of Agriculture, Kildare St. Dublin and will start at 12.30pm.
The post Farmers strike over introduction of mandatory EID tagging and unworkable CLP policy. appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
Fianna Fáil TD Eamon Scanlon has slammed the decision by the Department of Agriculture to slap fines on farmers whose lands were affected by forest fires on Killery mountain last year.
Hundreds of acres of land on Killery mountain were destroyed in forest fires last May, and a section of the Sligo Way was damaged.
The Sligo-Leitrim Deputy has said that despite the fact money was allocated by the Department of Rural and Community Development to carry out repair work to the
boardwalk on the Sligo Way, the Department of Agriculture is continuing to penalise farmers who did not set the fires.
“The situation on Killery mountain is extremely unfair. There are 33 farmers who are being unfairly penalised by the Department of Agriculture, which has itself recognised the fact that these farmers did not set these fires. I raised this issue with Department officials at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture this week and was extremely disappointed at the approach taken by them.
“The Sligo Way has been an extremely successful tourism initiative, bringing hundreds of people to the area, especially during the Sligo Camino, which took place during May last year. Hotels and B&Bs were booked out over the duration of the walking festival, resulting in a much needed economic boost for Sligo and Leitrim. However, farmers are now paying the price.
“It was unseasonably warm for the time of year, and it has been widely acknowledged that the fires were more than likely started accidentally. In fact, there were forest fires burning in Cork, Kerry and Galway during the same period. Despite this, the farmers in Killery are being penalised.
“The treatment of these farmers is appalling. They’re facing fines or penalties for something outside of their control. This is unbelievably unfair. I am calling on Minister Michael Creed to let common sense prevail and to reverse the decision to penalise these farmers.
“Farmers are already under pressure, the fact that they are facing a reduction in their Basic Payment is inexcusable. The Minister needs to intervene – and I will be continuing to raise this issue with him until there is a satisfactory outcome.”
The post Scanlon weighs in with a call for ‘common sense’ as Sligo farmers face fines for forest fires appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
Department of Agriculture proposed electronic identification of all sheep has been denounced as “completely over the top.”
The attack follows the announcement by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed that “all sheep, including lambs under twelve months moving directly from the farm for processing, must be EID tagged from 1 October 2018.”
ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks said, “It would appear the Department have been hoodwinked” on the measure.
“This has been done without warning or consultation at the behest of processors.”
He said there was no doubt that the move will benefit efficiency in factories “but there will be no benefit to the primary producer or to the end consumer.
“The sheep farmer will ultimately have to bear all the costs associated and there will be no extra traceability post slaughter, certainly not individual carcass traceability.
“Foisting this on farmers with the reasoning that it’s a market requirement simply does not ring true.”
Continuing Mr Brooks said:
“It would appear the Department have been hoodwinked on this. Up to now even the most ardent supporter of EID tagging consented that it should never be a requirement for lambs moving from farm of origin to the meat plant.
“In addition, there has been no promise of a reduction paperwork for the farmer. Costs have been mounting up for sheep farmers in recent months. In the middle of a busy spring we had the confused roll out of Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) for sheep and now this.
“There is no justification for adding this extra cost burden onto sheep farmers at a time when so many are struggling to stay afloat.”
The post Sheep tagging plan blasted as “completely over the top” appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
Today’s announcement on a proposed 5% cut in CAP funding in the next seven year EU budget “will be very worrying for Irish farmers,” says Patrick Kent.
The ICSA chief was in Brussels for the speech of Commission president Jean Claude Juncker at the European Parliament and the announcement by budget Commissioner Oettinger of detailed Multi Annual Financial Framework (MFF) proposals.
“It is now time for straight talking on how we can support farmers who face huge challenges especially in the light of Brexit. The 5% cut in CAP which translates into 4% cut in direct payments is unacceptable. It is clear that while Member States are being asked to increase their contribution, the figure of 1.114% of GNI is less than many would have hoped for.
“It is also critical to note that Commissioner Oettinger has also outlined ideas for increased ‘own resources’ for the EU which are highly likely to be controversial and which Ireland will have difficulties with.
“Therefore all options must be explored including national co-financing of direct payments, subject to strict guidelines to ensure fairness for all EU farmers.
“There is no doubt that member states must face up to the funding dilemma but the assumption that the EU can do more in other areas by raiding CAP funds has to be challenged. The focus should really be on more efficient use of EU resources.
“A cut in CAP funding simply cannot be absorbed by Irish farmers.
“It is impossible to expect farmers to do more and more for less and less and this message has to get through.”
The post Kent says proposed decrease in CAP funding ‘will be very worrying for Irish farmers’ appeared first on Sligo News File.
Sligo News File.
Another crippling attack on Ireland’s rural economy is set to come in the form of a massive cutback in the CAP.
According to the Farmers Journal, leaked proposals on the future shape of the EU policy reveal that payments will be channelled more towards farmers not drawing income from on farm activities.
Farmers with sizeable off-farm income will be hammered, with EU payments capped at €60,000.
The Minister for Agriculture is reportedly being given more power to order the structure of the CAP, changes to which are scheduled to take effect just two years from now.
The post Potential farm wipe out as leak reveals plans for shock rollback in EU payments appeared first on Sligo News File.