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.

  • 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.

     

  • 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.

  • 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 has said Revenue must treat farmers as citizens not targets in new taxation measures.

    Erris Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway-Walsh was speaking at an IFA meeting to inform farmers about the changes in Breaffy House last week.

    She says small farmers in the west of Ireland struggling to make a living on marginal land must be exempted from further bureaucracy when it comes to new taxation measures proposed.

    Senator Conway-Walsh says the new PAYE modernisation scheme, due to be implemented from January 2019 is unworkable for small farmers. She says having to report any payments to spouses, sons or daughters or casual labour in real time, is going to cause huge challenges for farmers.

    The Senator says exemptions must be introduced to reflect these situations for farmers.

  • The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed today announced the mandatory extension of electronic identification to all sheep.

    The new rules will require all sheep sold from 1 October 2018 onwards to be identified electronically.  This timeframe will allow farmers a reasonable period of time to use up stocks of tags on hand. The Minister added that he intends to introduce a one off support measure up to a maximum of €50 per keeper for the first purchase of EID tags.

    Lambs under 12 months of age moving directly to slaughter from the holding of birth will be required to be identified with a single electronic tag.  All other sheep will require an EID tag set comprised of two tags – one conventional tag and a corresponding electronic tag.  However a conventional tag and an EID bolus will be permitted also.

    The Minister further announced that electronic tag readers and associated software are included as eligible investments in the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) scheme to assist sheep farmers in flock management.  He stressed however, that tag readers are not a requirement for the new sheep identification system. 

    The move to full EID and the inclusion of EID readers as an eligible investment in TAMS will make the recording of the movement of lambs off farm much more convenient and will greatly simplify the paperwork involved for sheep farmers.

    Meanwhile IFA President Joe Healy said the announcement by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed on the imposition of compulsorily electronic sheep tagging on all sheep from October 1st is adding insult to injury after the fodder crisis and the financial challenges sheep farmers have had to endure this winter.

    He said it is astonishing that Minister Creed would impose further costs and bureaucracy on farmers on the same day that Brussels has proposed a cut to CAP Direct Payments.

    Joe Healy said the Minister is ignoring farmers and appears to be dancing to the tune of the meat factories, which are pushing hardest for EID.

    He said sheep farmers will be really angry with this announcement from the Minister as they see everybody benefiting except farmers, who will have to pick up all of the costs. In addition, it comes on top of the Clean Sheep policy which the Minister imposed earlier this year and it has caused immense hardship for the sector.

  • The Minister for Agriculture needs to pay the outstanding GLAS, ANC, and Sheep payments from 2017, if farmers struggling to buy fodder are to pay for it.

    That’s the view of Mulranny based Independent Councillor Michael Holmes.

    The Councillor told Midwest News today that while the Minister’s import subsidy for fodder transport costs is welcome, it’s not enough.

    He says he is aware of many farmers in this region that are still owed monies from last year’s schemes.

  • The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy T.D., and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today announced a one-month extension to the deadline by which derogation farmers must have 50% of the their slurry spread.

    The date is extended from 15 June to 15 July 2018 and thereafter the remainder of slurry must be spread by low-emission technology.

    Minister Creed explained that “We have decided to extend the date by one month to 15 July 2018 in light of the significant difficulties faced by farmers and contractors in spreading slurry as a result of the extreme weather this spring. This has meant that it is not possible for many derogation farmers to meet the 15 June deadline set out in the Nitrates Regulations due to the poor weather and delayed grass growth, which has impacted on first cut silage harvesting dates. The limited extension for 2018 will facilitate farmers and contractors in catching up with their workloads”.

  • The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy T.D., today announced that Ireland has been formally granted a ‘derogation’ under the Nitrates Directive following the receipt of legal approval from the EU Commission.

    Minister Creed said that “the renewal of the derogation for a further four years is great news for Ireland’s farmers as it allows them to plan ahead with certainty over the medium term. All farmers have an important role to play in protecting our environment particularly those farming intensively.”

    This formal legal approval follows December’s positive vote at a meeting of the EU Nitrates Management Committee in Brussels and the signing, by Minister Murphy, of the new Nitrates Regulations[1] on 20 December 2017 giving effect to Ireland’s fourth Nitrates Action Programme. This Programme will now be amended to reflect the terms of the derogation marking the conclusion of the process.

    The derogation allows more intensive farmers to operate at a higher stocking rate than that stipulated in the Directive, subject to adherence to stricter rules to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  The derogation will run to the end of 2021 when the fourth programme concludes.

    Minister Creed also announced the opening of the 2018 on-line application facility.

    Over 7,000 intensively stocked farmers availed of the derogation in 2017 with a similar number anticipated to avail of the facility in 2018. The closing date for applications is 20th April 2018.Farmers who applied for a derogation in 2017 are reminded that they must submit fertiliser accounts by 20th April 2018 also.

     

     

  • A National Fodder Helpline has been set up by Teagasc to help farmers through the current fodder crisis.

    It says they can phone or text 087 7971377 to speak to a Teagasc person for assistance over the weekend.

    It says silage supplies must be stretched over the next three weeks, and normal daily silage feeding can be reduced in half by limiting the silage offered.

    Fodder Clinics have been held in most of Teagasc's 50 offices around the country over the last few days.