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Search begins for Young Farmer of Year


It’s one of the most prestigious awards in the Irish agriculture sector and Macra na Feirme is pleased to announce that the search has begun for the 2017 FBD Young Farmer of the Year.

  Young farmers involved in sectors such as beef, dairy, sheep and others (including horticulture, pigs, poultry, tillage) are encouraged to enter and the winner of each sector will compete to be crowned the 2017 Macra na Feirme/FBD Young Farmer of the Year.

  The winner of the 2017 Macra na Feirme/FBD Young Farmer of the Year will receive a travel bursary and the opportunity to experience farm practices abroad while developing their skills. There will also be a new ‘Future Farmer’ award this year for an emerging young farmer under the age of 23. As in previous years, county winners will also receive an award.

  You can nominate a young farmer for Young Farmer of the Year or you can enter yourself by visiting macra.ie/youngfarmer. The closing date for applications is 1st of September.


IFA update on concerns over Knowledge Transfer Programme


IFA says it has secured agreement from Teagasc that Knowledge Transfer data to be submitted to the Department of Agriculture will not be held up pending resolution of client fee issues.

  IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady said IFA is insisting that the Department of Agriculture makes the Knowledge Transfer payment of €750 to farmers by the end of October and that there must be no excuses or impediments put in the way of that. 

  IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy pointed out to Teagasc that farmers are asked to pay for veterinary charges and adding in an additional fee for Teagasc diminishes the value of the €750 payment to the farmer under the scheme.

  In addition, Richard Kennedy has already told the Department of Agriculture that IFA wants veterinary fees abolished from the Knowledge Transfer programme.

  Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy had called for the confusion surrounding the fees being charged by Teagasc for farmers taking part in the Knowledge Transfer (KT) programme to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

  He said he had been contacted by a number of farmers who were being charged up to €460 to be a part of the Teagasc Knowledge Transfer programme.

  Deputy Murphy said that the farmers were not notified of the fees before they entered the programme and are now being told that if the fees are not paid their paperwork will be withheld from the Department of Agriculture until the fees are paid in full.

  Deputy Murphy said he would be seeking clarification in relation to the fees structure from the Department of Agriculture to ascertain what exactly the farmers are paying for in relation to the administration costs.




IFA demands stronger policy delivery on beef and sheep


Stronger action at EU and Government level is required to address the ongoing income challenges in the beef and sheep sectors, according to Roscommon IFA County Chairman, Mr. John Hanley.

  Mr. Hanley said a policy framework must be developed with the aim of returning viable cattle and sheep prices and increased targeted direct payments, which are essential to maintain confidence in the sectors and our national breeding herds which provide the backbone to €2.5bn in output value. The County Chairman said technical efficiency is very important inside the farm gate, but getting the national and EU policy right for a profitable sector at farm level is absolutely essential.

  Mr. Hanley said viable price returns to farmers are possible from the market provided there is a fair share out of the retail price across the chain. He said cattle prices in the range from €4.00 to €4.50/kg are essential to cover the cost of production on the most efficient farms, and leave a margin. On lamb prices, he said mid-season prices need to be in the order of €5.00 to €6.00//kg.

  He said market demand for beef is strong and export market prices, particularly in our main market in the UK, are very strong. Cattle numbers will be much tighter than originally forecast due to increased live exports and lower carcase weights. “Beef markets are in a strong position and there is no basis for any pressure on cattle prices. In addition, live exports are performing very well, up 45%, with 140,000 head exported to date this year.”

Farmers in Roscommon asked to remain vigilant for water pollution


Inland Fisheries Ireland has issued an appeal to farmers in Roscommon to remain vigilant during the summer months when harvesting silage and spreading slurry to avoid water pollution and the loss of nutrients to water. There were 31 separate fish kills across the country last year, with eight of those directly attributable to agricultural activities.

  The eight fish kills caused by agricultural practises in 2016 occurred in Meath, Kilkenny, Cork, Kerry, Sligo and Galway. Fish killed in these incidents included brown trout, atlantic salmon, eel, stone loach and stickleback. In addition to the agricultural-related kills, two fish kills were as a result of municipal works and one by industrial works. In four instances, the exact cause of the fish kill was difficult to ascertain while 16 incidents of fish kills were as a result of disease and natural causes.

  As agriculture was the largest identifiable and avoidable attributing factor to fish kills last year, farmers in Roscommon are reminded of the importance of managing their silage operations correctly. Silage operations are ongoing all summer and silage effluent has the potential to cause devastating pollution in streams and rivers. Silage effluent is a significant polluting substance, starving fish and invertebrate life of oxygen, resulting in potentially massive fish kills if it enters a watercourse. With some rivers low during summertime with little dilution capacity, the effect of a small leak can cause huge damage.

  Inland Fisheries Ireland is advising farmers in Roscommon to follow its simple plan to ensure good farmyard management and reduce their risk of polluting. Use round bales as the most environmentally friendly way to store silage. If a silage pit is being used, ensure it is properly sealed to prevent leakage from under the slab.

Carry out slurry spreading in dry weather and never when heavy rain is forecast.

  Never spread slurry close to a watercourse, be aware of the slope of land to the watercourse. Do not clean tanks beside any watercourse, stream or a river. Do not allow any effluent or washings to enter any rainwater gully.

  Inland Fisheries Ireland has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents of water pollution, fish kills and illegal fishing – 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. For more information on Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie.


Launch of National Farmed Animal Health Strategy welcomed


IFA National Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart has welcomed the launch of the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy (NFAHS) 2017-2022 and the Animal Health Surveillance Strategy for Ireland 2016-2021 by the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

  Bert Stewart said the principles of the NFAHS “working in partnership, acknowledging roles and responsibilities, reflecting costs and benefits and prevention is better than cure” are key components that must be comprehensively and appropriately included in all animal health programmes.

  However, he said, the overriding principle that must be recognised is the experience and professional competency of farmers in caring for their animals. These principles must be fundamental elements, not only of future programmes but also core elements of existing animal health programmes.

  IFA looks forward to proactively engaging in a meaningful way with the Minister and his officials to ensure these objectives are implemented and delivered for the benefit of farmers.

  In relation to the Animal Health Surveillance Strategy for Ireland 2016-2021, Bert Stewart said IFA has consistently identified the importance of the current Regional Veterinary Laboratories (RVL) structures for farmers and the entire agriculture sector as an independent surveillance network. He said the existing RVL network is recognised internationally as the optimum disease surveillance structure. 

  Bert Stewart the Minister in the upcoming Budget must commit the necessary resources to ensure the existing RVL network is maintained and the service provided to farmers enhanced as a first step in developing the Animal Health Surveillance Strategy for Ireland 2016-2021.

Engagement with landowners on greenway development ‘haphazard’



Mr. Ned O’Connor, Roscommon IFA Environment Committee Chairman, has called on the Department of Transport to make funding to local authorities for greenways to be contingent on the development of a Code of Practice for engaging with landowners.

  In a detailed submission to the Department of Transport, IFA described the level of engagement with landowners by local authorities on greenway developments to date as haphazard and in some instances non-existent.

  Mr. O’Connor said: “This has culminated in some local authorities taking an adversarial approach and threatening the use of CPO for the development of such recreational routes.”

  Mr. O’Connor added: “Recreational routes such as Greenways and Blueways have an important role to play in promoting agri-tourism and economic activity in rural areas. This has been seen most recently in towns in Mayo and Waterford, which have benefited from the success of Greenway projects.

  “However, these Greenways will also have a significant impact on farming activity and rural communities. Such routes should firstly be confined to state-owned lands. Only then should they be developed by agreement on private lands, along farm boundaries and through a combination of off- and on-public roads, similar to the development of recreational routes in other countries.”

  In the submission to the Department, IFA has set out a number of key principles to be included in any national greenways development plan.

  Specifically on land access, IFA is looking to the new Department of Community & Regional Affairs to lead discussions and build on the model already developed with Comhairle na Tuaithe for the Rural Walks Scheme.

Top Oil to fuel this year’s National Ploughing Championships


NPA are delighted to once again be partnering with Top Oil as the official fuel sponsor for this year’s Ploughing. Highlighting this successful pairing, over 100 road sign billboards have been erected at strategic locations throughout the country for this epic event, which takes place from 19th-21st of September.

  With visitor enjoyment levels always at the forefront of the NPA’s consideration, this year will see the length of trackway increased to a massive 30km for ease of movement throughout the site in Screggan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

  At this week’s launch, Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Anna May McHugh, along with management staff from Top Oil and the Top Oil mascot Mr. Ted, erected the first of these advertisements. As the billboard went up, Ms. McHugh spoke of how she looked forward to working very closely with Top Oil in the run-up to the championships and stated: “I am delighted that Top Oil have come on board again this year as sponsorship partners of the event. Top Oil are a very well-known brand throughout Ireland and instantly recognisable throughout the rural community.”

  Last year’s National Ploughing Championships was attended by a record-breaking 283,000 visitors and this year promises to be even better, with over 1,700 diverse and exciting exhibitors already booked in.

Serious concerns for farmers about price competition


IFA Livestock Chairman Angus Woods led an IFA delegation with senior officials in the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in Dublin recently. Angus Woods told the CCPC Director of Mergers that farmers do not believe that there is adequate price competition in the beef sector.

  He made it very clear to the CCPC that it is their responsibility to guarantee robust competition in the beef-processing sector.

  “Farmers have seen no evidence from the CCPC that they are prepared to take any action to tackle the competition issue at processing level,” he said.

  Angus Woods said the recent developments on mergers in the beef and sheep sectors raise serious concerns for farmers about price competition and increasing the power of processors.

  The Authority is currently considering the merger between Dawn and Dunbia and IFA was meeting the Authority on this matter and the broader issues around the lack of competition and transparency in the beef sector.

  Mr. Woods said the lack of transparency around market returns, wholesale prices and profits across the meat chain from processing right through to retail level is unacceptable and impedes competition.

  He called for action at national and EU level to address this issue and pointed to the clear and robust system of transparency in place in the USA.

Mairead meets Horse Care Ireland on Brexit concerns


Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, met with Premier Horse Care Ireland (Ballinasloe) to discuss the organisation’s concerns over the potential impact Brexit may have on the sector, and other current issues, in Kiltoom, Co. Roscommon, recently.

Pictured (left to right) are: John Joe Fitzpatrick (Chairman of Premier Horse Care Ireland, O’Brien’s Bridge, County Clare), Mairead McGuinness (MEP for the Midlands North West and Vice-President of the European Parliament), and Premier Horse Care Ireland committee members Catriona Higgins (Williamstown, County Galway) and Denis Bracken (Ballycumber, County Offaly).


Fitzmaurice in warning to Irish Water: ‘Don’t use farmers as scapegoats’



Deputy Fitzmaurice says bills for water usage for farmers, issued by Irish Water, have increased substantially due to a new charging system which the TD claims “breaks an agreement made with the farming organisations some years ago.”

  Deputy Fitzmaurice is calling on farmers to check their bills to ensure that they are not being overchanged.

  “Farmers who have land in a number of locations heretofore paid one service charge for the meter, and then they paid for water usage at all the locations. But now, Irish Water, who have taken over the billing for farmers – as they are treated as commercial accounts – is apparently charging the service charge for all the locations and it is adding hundreds of euro to the water bills for some farmers.

  “This flies in the face of an agreement which was made with the farm organisations some years ago. This is a totally unacceptable move, and farmers should not be used to replace funds that the Government will have to raise in order to pay for water services” he said.

  Deputy Fitzmaurice said he has contacted Irish Water about this situation.

  “I am asking farmers to look carefully at their water bills to see if this extra change has been applied, and I will be following up this as a matter of the most extreme urgency with Irish Water. We cannot allow a situation whereby farmers are used as scapegoats to raise revenue” he concluded.


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