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SPRING 2020

Michael Creed reflects on his time as Minister Interview with new EU Farm Commissioner Milk prices drive demand for land in West Cork

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Welcome to our Spring 2020 edition of West Cork Farming FARMERS have an anxious time ahead of them with so many external issues that will have an effect on their livelihoods still to be resolved. Brexit – even though it did not feature as a general election issue – still looms large with trade talks ongoing during the transition period, the outcome of which will be crucial to Irish farmers. The number one focus for all farmers in 2020 has to be the fight for a fair Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) budget, according to new IFA president Tim Cullinan. Beef farmers, in particular, need this, as despite all their protests last year, prices have not improved to the extent that they need to in order to make their enterprises viable, not helped either by an oversupply of beef calves from the dairy sector Then we have the calls by climate activists to cull the national herd and the spectre of the hypocritical Mercosur deal with South American countries. The latest threat to agriculture and to the Irish economy in general is the spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19, which – as we

went to press – looked set to cause disruption to people’s lives and reduce demand for fresh food products as consumers are more likely to stock up on non-perishable goods in anticipation of any possible lockdown. Such a scenario may never happen, but the prospect of it will influence consumers’ sentiment and behaviour just in case it might. Hopefully, we won’t be as badly hit as people were in China and Italy, but we all need to be ready by adopting good hand hygiene practices and following public health guidelines. In fairness to our farming community, the dairy sector in particular, they observe top-class hygiene practices with their animal husbandry in producing premium product, so applying these to their families should help keep them as safe as is possible from contracting Covid-19. MENTAL HEALTH In this issue of the West Cork Farming magazine, we emphasise the importance of farmers’ mental health and suggest

some steps they can take to improve it. There is help out there and the message for farmers is don’t be afraid or ashamed to avail of it. We have a special feature on farm machinery – where to get the best deals and how to finance them. Also, useful practical advice from Teagasc and financial advice from FDC. We speak to young farmers from across the area about what they need and expect from the incoming government – if and when we get one! They are mainly concerned about getting a fully-funded CAP budget with more schemes to encourage young farmers, low prices, rural broadband, water quality and the environment generally. There are also interviews with the EU’s new Farm Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski, from Poland, who is filling Phil Hogan’s big boots, and Minister for Agriculture for now, Macroom’s Michael Creed, on his time in office and what his successor will face. We have a Fun Q&A with Carmel Cullinane of Clonakilty

Macra, winner of the Carbery Blue Jeans Country Queen title for 2020. Anyone who wishes to make their opinions on farming or fisheries issues known may contact us by phone on 028-21200 or email editorial@southernstar.ie

– Con Downing, Editor THE SOUTHERN STAR SECTION 1 SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 2018

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West Cork FARMING

Farming & Fisheries West Cork

Changes to Fair Deal get a warm welcome

BY SIOBHÁN CRONIN

THERE has been a largely warm welcome from the farming organisation s to last week’s changes to the Fair Deal scheme. The government has approved a proposal to change

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Young farmers have their say IT’S an uncertain time for farmers as they await the formation of a new government, the finalisation of CAP and the ongoing Brexit negotiations. On behalf of The Southern Star, Brian Moore asked a selection of young West Cork farmers what they needed and expected from any new government and Minister for Agriculture, whenever he or she eventually takes office.

DANIEL HICKEY

Daniel Hickey, Mizen Macra, has a different but also important outlook when it comes to a priority for the new government: ‘The National Broadband Plan must be rolled out and completed urgently,’ Daniel said. ‘Everything is going online now and, if we are to compete and increase our efficiency, we must be able to access high-speed broadband no matter where our farm or farm enterprise is.’ Daniel continued: ‘There must be more supports for younger farmers. There needs to be enhanced tax thresholds, and new opportunities for people to sustain rural entrepreneurship and develop their farm enterprises, but overall the planning procedures need to be overhauled to all young people to be able to stay on their family farms and in rural Ireland.’

COLLEEN BURCHILL For Colleen Burchill, Crossmahon-Bandon Macra, the new government will have to start backing farmers when it comes to the environment and climate change. ‘The government is not backing farmers and it is the livestock farmer who is getting 100% of the blame for lack of action on climate change,’ Colleen said. ‘More needs to be done to encourage older farmers to lease out their land without the fear of losing out on single farm payments in the future and, with this, stock relief and longer third-party leasing must be made available for young trained farmers.’ Colleen also wants to see more investment when it comes to encouraging farmers to develop their businesses and to support them with labour, safety and their quality of life.

BARRY WALSH For Barry Walsh, Ballinascarty Marca, the uncertainty surrounding CAP and stocking rates is a major concern. ‘We don’t know who will be negotiating for Irish farmers in Brussels,’ Barry said. ‘Whatever party ends up in government, agriculture needs to be a top priority.’ ‘We also need better environmental direction and not to be penalised in relation to Area 8 maps and the single farm payment.’ Barry would also like to see a Citizens’ Assembly for farmers and farming: ‘We need to talk about the future of farming, not just for certain groups but for the country as a whole. ‘The government needs to tackle the beef factories once and for all,’ Barry continued. ‘Family farms are being destroyed by the factory feed lots and this can’t continue if we are to save the beef farmers across the country.’

HOLLY CAIRNS, TD

JOHN DULLEA For John Dunlea, Barryroe Macra, the new government must address the protection of the current CAP budget. ‘There must also be a real focus on support programmes to improve water quality; these would be number one on my list for the incoming government,’ John said. ‘Further to this, I would like to see CAP funds continued to be invested in Young Farmers, Protein Aid Schemes and Education.’ Farm incomes are another extremely important priority for John. ‘I would like to see the price of farm produce increased for consumers and this increase passed onto the primary producer. I believe food is too cheap especially when it comes to our beef and dairy products. ‘We have the highest traceability, animal welfare and environmental standards, however, when it comes to the price paid, we do not receive a premium price. I would like to see the next government of Ireland invest and support an organisation that would ensure a fair price for Irish farmers. ‘I would like the incoming government to focus on export markets. In the midst of Brexit, we are vulnerable to any changes in the EU market. If we want to continue to increase our agricultural production, we need new markets. We need markets that are willing to pay a premium price. ‘Irish farmers can produce a carbon-friendly product which brings great opportunity. The new government needs to support businesses that are willing to exploit these markets,’ John said.

Newly-elected TD, young farmer and Social Democrats’ agriculture spokesperson, West Cork’s Holly Carins said that maintaining CAP incomes and the best Brexit for farmers are a top priority. ‘Given the dependence of Irish farm incomes on CAP payments, there is inevitably concern over what future negotiations could mean for CAP payments to Irish farmers. And any disparity – and unfair advantage – arising on the island come January 2021,’ Holly said. ‘Brexit-related uncertainty might be front of mind right now, but it’s fair to say that a reduction in CAP payments has been on the cards since the Commission put forward its original budget proposal in May 2018. ‘There has never been any attempt or commitment to inflation-proof these payments. From this perspective, a 3 to 4% cut in the nominal direct payments that farmers receive will be missed, but will not be a decisive factor in the future of farming.’ ‘The cut in EU rural development funding is much more significant. However, the Commission has proposed that member states should increase their cofinancing of rural development spending. ‘Additional Irish Exchequer funding would significantly mitigate the cut in this area,’ Holly concluded.


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Clinics will commence withinto aHotel, talk from a farm| Pre-booking succession expert and will then break up Attendance free charge is essential Booking Pre-booking is essential --Clinic To book on-line visit the one-to-one format. Venue Parkway Dunmanway, Co Cork Booking Pre-booking isof essential To book on-line visit Thomas Curran Venue Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway, Co Cork Your local office into the one-to-one Clinic format. Venue Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway, Co Cork - Cork West Thomas Curran Regional Manager Date Monday, 23rd September www.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/events Contact your local Teagasc Office Clonakilty 0238863130, Macroom - 026 - 41604 Regional Manager Date Monday, 23rd September www.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/events Date Monday, 23rd September Coronea, Contact your local Teagasc Office - -Clonakilty - Skibbereen 0238863130, Macroom - 026 - 41604 Time 10.30 Teagasc Cork oram Skibbereen 028–21888 to West book a place. Time 10.30 am Time 10.30 am 028succession - to 21888 orwith Skibbereen - 028–21888 bookexpert aon-line place. Thomas Curran Regional Manager - essential Cork West Booking Pre-booking isfrom -- To book visit Clinics talk aa-farm and will Attendance ofessential charge is Booking Pre-booking essential To on-line visit Clinics will will commence commence with aa free talkis farm| Pre-booking succession expert and will then then break break up up Booking Pre-booking isfrom essential -Clinic To book book on-line visit Attendance free of charge | Pre-booking is essential into the one-to-one format. www.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/events into the one-to-one Clinic format. www.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/events www.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/eventswww.teagasc.ie/events Thomas Curran Contact Contact your your local local Teagasc Teagasc Office Office -- Clonakilty Clonakilty -- 023023- 8863130, 8863130, Macroom Macroom -- 026 026 -- 41604 41604 Regional Manager Clinics aa talk from aa-farm succession expert and will Skibbereen -- 028–21888 to book aa place. Thomas Regional - Cork Clinics will will commence commenceor with talkCurran from farm succession expert andWest will then then break break up up orwith Skibbereen 028–21888 toManager book place. Clinics will commence with a talk from a farm succession expert and will then break up Teagasc Cork West Thomas Curran - Regional Manager is- essential Cork West into the one-to-one Clinic Attendance free charge into theof one-to-one Clinic format. format. Attendance free of charge || Pre-booking Pre-booking is essential into the one-to-one Clinic format. Contact your local Teagasc Office Clonakilty 0238863130, Macroom 026 41604 Contact Office 8863130, Macroom Contact your your local local Teagasc Teagasc Office -- -Clonakilty Clonakilty -- 0230238863130, Macroom -- 026 026 -- 41604 41604 or Skibbereen to book aa place. or Skibbereen -- 028–21888 028–21888 to book place. or Skibbereen 028–21888 to book a place. Your local office Coronea, Skibbereen 028-2188 Attendance free of charge | Pre-booking is essential Thomas Curran Regional Manager Cork West Attendance free of || Pre-booking Thomas Curran - Regional Manager is - essential Cork West Attendance free of charge charge Pre-booking is essential

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Challenges facing new Minister As he prepares to leave office, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed reflects with Brian Moore about his tenure CAP, climate and Brexit. These must be the top priorities for whoever takes over the top job at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, current Minister Michael Creed TD said. ‘The biggest challenge facing any new Agriculture Minister will be securing an adequate budget for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and this is an issue right across government as the funding for the EU is a major priority. ‘We pay more money into Europe than we take out and this is a reflection on the strength of economy now, but we get the overwhelming majority of our receipts through the CAP so it is vitally important to our rural economy and to farmers’ incomes that we have a properly-funded CAP.’ The Minister also said that the CAP is vitally important for Ireland to support climate change policy. ‘Our whole capacity to meet the climate change agenda is also linked with a properly-funded CAP,’ Minister Creed said. ‘We are looking to the next CAP to enable us to support, through Pillar 2 initiatives, the climate measures we need across all farming sectors to meet the challenges we have on climate issues.’

‘For me, the highlight in connection with the fisheries sector was my decision to preserve the inshore waters for smaller boats, a very significant policy step; we have put a support structure in place for inshore fishermen now to create brand awareness and to work with them to promote their produce from this sector. ‘There is real potential in that. And, we have invested an awful lot in working with the fishing industry, but there is a real challenge for us as the Brexit negotiations continue.’ However, Minister Creed acknowledged that during his time in office there have been challenges that have yet to be overcome: ‘The beef industry issue and incomes for farmers in this sector have been very challenging,’ Minister Creed said. ‘Add to this, it was a low moment to see how the farming voice has fractured in all different directions now, with pop-up organisations and the like. I know many do not agree with me, but I believe this hasn’t served the farming lobby very well.

‘This is a real and ongoing challenge, and will be waiting for the next Minister for Agriculture whenever he or she takes office.’

Food markets New markets for Ireland’s food industry is also a focus that the next government must address. ‘When the EU has negotiated new trade agreements with, for example, Canada, Mexico and Japan, the Irish food industry was first to explore new markets. And this brings the value of our EU membership in to clear focus as we could never have accessed these markets without the size of the EU behind us. ‘The UK market, in a free trade agreement between the UK and EU will always be an important market for us,’ Minister Creed said. ‘But we have to be aware, as an exporting, agri-food nation, that every market we can pursue has potential.’ Minister Creed also cited the importance of live animal exports: ‘This is a hugely-

Significant Speaking to The Southern Star, as the formation of the next government is still far from clear, Minister Creed said, while faced with many challenges during his time as Agriculture and Fisheries Minister his department had achieved a number of significant policies that would have a positive effect on the farming and fishing industry. ‘The opening of the Chinese market was a really significant endeavour by the government over a protracted period of time,’ Minister Creed said. ‘Although, if you look at the where we are presently with the difficulties in the beef sector, the coronavirus and the Chinese market, it is certainly not as successful as we would have wished at this time but it is still a huge market for us.

Beef farmers protesting putside ABP in Bandon last autumn

important market and the continued operation and access to our live export markets depends wholly on high welfare standards, and we have to ensure that these standards from the farmers right the way through marts, exporters, to shipping companies to third country authorities, we need to make sure that we maintain the highest standards of welfare and compliance with regulations. ‘This is the only way we can ensure that this industry will continue.’ As the Minister comes to the end of his period at the forefront of shaping Irish agriculture policy, what are the major threats to farming and fishing facing rural Ireland and what advice would he have for the next Minister for Agriculture? ‘CAP and climate and of course Brexit must be a major focus,’ Minister Creed said. ‘These are hugely significant issues and, if the next Minister manages over the next five years to navigate these challenges, he or she will have done a very good job.’


Wojciechowski outlines his vision for farming sector Rose O’Donovan, the Brussels’ correspondent with The Southern Star, recently caught up with new EU Farm Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski to talk about his future vision for the sector POLAND’S Janusz Wojciechowski took over the reins from Phil Hogan as EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development on December 1st, 2019. The former MEP (2004-2016), who previously worked at the European Court of Auditors, will steer farm policy until 2024. As bilateral talks on the future relationship between the EU and the UK kicked off in Brussels this month, with London already digging its heels in and (re)-drawing a number of red lines, Commissioner Wojciechowski repeated his promise to defend the CAP budget and support farmers in their efforts to implement the forthcoming Farm to Fork Strategy, steered by his colleague Stella Kyriakides, responsible for Health & Food Safety. During an interview with The Southern Star, the Polish Commissioner described the role of the agricultural community in the forthcoming Strategy (due to be unveiled on March 25) as “crucial,” as the onus will be on farmers “who are food producers, not industry and not trade.” His main task in the coming months was to “ensure that this Strategy significantly strengthens the sustainable development of European agriculture … but also that it is acceptable and feasible for the farmers themselves.” The EU Farm chief insisted that provisions must be introduced fairly “taking into account the diverse situation of farmers in individual Member States,” as practices vary greatly in terms of farm intensity, stocking density, use of pesticides, fertilizers or antibiotics. These differences must be taken into account in the context of planned activities, he added.

Organic sector high on agenda DURING the one-hour interview in his office in the Berlaymont, the Law & Justice (PiS) politician pledged to table an Action Plan for organic farming by the end of 2020 or in early 2021. DG AGRI services were already working on an advanced draft and have invited suggestions and proposals. He described the development of organic farming ‘as one of our main tasks,’ referring to the ‘advantages of this farming method,’ in terms of sustainable production, respecting the environment, climate and animal welfare. The main barrier to the development of organic farming was the market, he outlined, ‘which is not equally-open to healthy organic food everywhere.’ Better promotion of organic products and increasing market

Farm Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski recently met with Rose O’Donovan, ‘The Southern Star’ Brussels correspondent, to discuss the future of EU farm policy. share ‘will be an essential part of our Action Plan,’ he added. The former MEP (2004-2016) also promised to work on a long-term strategy for rural development policy – due to be published in the first months of 2021 for public debate. ‘We need a Strategic Vision for rural development … which is essential for farmers and all rural residents,’ he outlined, underlining the importance of an ‘ambitious vision for rural areas to remain viable, to prevent de-population so that people in rural areas can live and work, whether in farming or otherwise.’ Similar to previous statements already made, the former president of the Polish Supreme Audit Office (1995-2001) said he would push for more Cohesion funds to be dedicated to rural areas, citing in particular expenditure to improve public transport and other services in the countryside, infrastructure and developing IT networks, with ‘greater synergies’ across the two key policies.

Wojciechowski stressed the importance of farmers who ‘provide food security for 500 million Europeans and at the same time protect our land, our environment in which we live,’ noting the EU’s ‘significant trade surpluses on world food markets.’ The former member of the European Court of Auditors (2016-2019) once again bemoaned the shrinking number of farms in the EU, down by four million in the last decade and the sector’s failure to attract new blood with a ‘rural population (that) is ageing and shrinking, with more than a third of European farmers now over the age of 65.’

CAP reform process ongoing: pledge to protect farm budget

ON the ongoing CAP reform process, EU Farm chief Wojciechowski expressed his openness to ‘dialogue on improving the Commission’s proposal.’ He awaits the European Parliament and

Council positions on future farm policy and hopes to ‘reach a political agreement without much tension,’ with the new framework coming into force in 2022. Following a series of meetings with EP political groups, he agrees with COMAGRI members that national capitals and farmers need more clarity on what eco-schemes or agri-environmental measures might involve. Following the failed attempt by EU leaders to hammer out a deal on the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) on February 20-21, he said there was a ‘growing awareness’ across Member States that the CAP budget proposed by the previous Commission ‘may not be sufficient in the face of the ambitious challenges of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy.’ He called for the expeditious agreement on the long-term financial perspectives (20212027) ‘as long as it is the right budget to meet the challenges ahead’ and he welcomed the ‘positive signal’ from Spain, France and Germany calling for a strong CAP budget to address ‘these new challenges’ tabled at the Farm Council meeting at the end of January. On trade, the 65-year-old politician said he was an ambassador of high-quality & globally-popular EU food on the international arena, flagging his first high-level mission to Vietnam and Singapore in November. ‘It will be important to capitalise on the recentlyagreed free trade agreements with both countries, which offer a unique opportunity for our food exporters,’ Wojciechowski added. When asked if he would engage in the trade agenda to the same extent as his predecessor Phil Hogan, the Polish politician said he planned to work closely with his Irish colleague ‘to protect the interest of farmers,’ including combatting unfair trade tariffs imposed on EU food exports. On bilateral relations between Washington and Brussels, he said the US was ‘our most important trading partner, with transatlantic trade in goods and services worth over $1.3 trillion per year’ – about $3 billion dollars per day, with the bloc importing around €12bn of US agriculture products last year. The EU wants to ‘pursue a positive and cooperative agenda with the US,’ he said, pointing to the bilateral between Presidents Ursula von der Leyen and Donald Trump in the margins of the World Economic Forum at the end of January. Since that meeting, both sides have ‘showed shared willingness to refresh the transatlantic relationship,’ he said, while Hogan stands ready to return to Washington in the coming weeks, if necessary, sources say.


When asked about a further EU-US political declaration – similar to the one hammered out between Trump and JeanClaude Juncker in July 2018 – Wojciechowski said both sides would ‘build on what was achieved so far, but we should also explore the possibility of bringing other issues to the table on which there is a common interest in working together as part of a positive trade agenda.’ Technical work is currently under way to identify what those issues could be, he stated, without being drawn on detail. But the EU’s position on ‘tariff negotiation for agriculture remains unchanged,’ the former judge concluded.

‘Constructive’ talks between EU and UK show how far the two sides have to go TALKS between UK and EU negotiators kicked off in early March, with some major bones of contention to be resolved before the two sides can strike a bilateral deal, according to EU negotiator Michel Barnier. The UK’s refusal to give guarantees on human rights or accept joint mechanisms for governance in any future relationship, are among the key sticking points. Barnier gave a press conference in Brussels on March 5th, unlike the UK team’s leader David Frost, who left without speaking to journalists. The first round of negotiations, which kicked off on the Monday morning, concluding immediately before the Frenchman spoke, had been ‘all about building or rebuilding a new ambitious partnership with this great country,’ he said, noting that the UK would remain, ‘a neighbour, a friend and an ally.’ At this stage in the negotiations, it is far too early for specific details on the future of the agri-food and fisheries sectors, more clarity on the shape of the deal is expected in the weeks and months ahead. ‘We have to rebuild practically everything on a different legal basis,’ the veteran politician outlined. There had been around 110 to 120 people on each side’s team. EU negotiators had represented all 22 Directorates-General of the Commission, as well as the External Action Service & the Secretariat General of the Council, ‘so that we are able to speak with a single voice,’ Barnier explained. He praised the ‘constructive spirit that has been shown,’ but conceded that the context was ‘very challenging.’

Withdrawal Agreement is key, says Barnier THERE was a need ‘to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, including a guarantee for the rights of 4.5 million citizens on both sides of the Channel,’ former Internal Market Commissioner (2010-2014) Michel Barnier said. He underlined the importance of ensuring peace and stability on the island of Ireland, under the Good Friday accord. Barnier stressed that how that wa§s to be done had been defined clearly in the Withdrawal Agreement and noted that his British counterpart Frost had ‘confirmed that the UK will respect all its legal undertakings.’ ‘This is a condition for the trust that we need, now, to build a partnership,’ Barnier emphasised. In Ireland, in particular, ‘it is not about negotiation now,’ he said. “It is about implementing a quite specific agreement. ‘It’s starting to look urgent for companies in Northern Ireland,’ he continued. ‘We will follow implementation very closely. Everything has to be done methodically.’ The Head of Taskforce with Relations with the UK also stressed the need to prepare for change: ‘There will be change whatever happens,’ he said, ‘whether there is an economic agreement or not. ‘If nothing changes in the position of Boris Johnson and his government, the UK will have left, on December 31st, the customs union and the single market,’ he continued, ‘if the transition period is not extended, as it could be for a year or more. ‘It will not be business as usual,’ the former French Agriculture Minister (20072009) warned.

Barnier outlines main bones of contention FROM January 1st, 2021 ‘customs formalities will be applied to all imports and all our exports to the UK,’ he explained. ‘The UK will do the same. ‘On that day, financial institutions in the UK will lose, automatically, the benefit of the financial passport,’ the 69-year-old continued. ‘UK certificates will no longer mean that it can be marketed in the EU. ‘Industrial goods, vehicles or medical devices … whatever, those are the consequences of Brexit.’ The partnership being negotiated now, ‘will not avoid those areas

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of friction that we have with third countries,’ he said. ‘The UK recognises that.’ There was a ‘constrained time,’ to re-build a strong relationship and ambitious partnership with London. ‘We will do everything we can to build the partnership along the lines of the political declaration agreed on December 17th,’ Barnier said. That had been ‘worked through, line by line, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson,’ he stressed. The EU’s side would ‘defend the interests of our citizens, of our companies and of our workers.’ The first round had involved opening eleven parallel negotiating tables. ‘There are many divergences,’ he said, describing them as ‘very serious.’ For example, on the level playing field, the political declaration had included agreement to prevent distortions of trade and unfair competition. ‘The UK is saying they want to keep an ambition ... have high standards,’ he said. ‘The UK does not want to translate those undertakings into a common agreement.’ The British side did not want appropriate mechanisms. ‘It’s a question of trust,’ he said. He also focused on criminal justice. The EU wanted co-operation but that required ‘a commitment on both sides with respect to fundamental rights of persons. ‘Yet the UK informs us that they do not wish to commit formally to continue to apply the European Convention on Human Rights, nor do they wish the European Court of Justice to play its full role with respect to European law. ‘This is a must have for us,’ he insisted. ‘The interpretation of European law can only be done by the ECJ. If the UK position does not move, it will have an immediate and concrete effect on the level of co-operation,’ he warned. Turning to English, presumably to stress points to a British audience, Barnier said that ‘our differences come as no surprise, especially after only one round of negotiations, but some are very difficult.’ He continues to believe ‘that we can reach a good agreement from both sides,’ calling the first four days of talks ‘constructive.’ ‘The UK spent a lot of time this week insisting on its independence,’ he said. ‘Nobody contests the UK’s independence. We really ask the UK to respect our own independence. The real question is what we do with our respective independence,’ he concluded.

Michel Barnier

UK ‘pleased’ The UK Prime Minister’s office issued a statement on the talks from an unidentified ‘spokesman,’ saying London was ‘pleased with the constructive tone from both sides that has characterised these talks.’ The government representative identified ‘fishing, governance, criminal justice and the so-called ‘level playing field’ as issues where ‘there are, as expected, significant differences.’ After getting in a jingoistic swipe about the UK regaining ‘our legal and economic independence,’ the mouthpiece insisted that the UK was looking forward to ‘continuing these talks in the same constructive spirit when the parties meet again in London,’ which at the time of going to press have been thrown into doubt because of the coronavirus. It looks like it’s going to be a long couple of months ahead. Rose O’Donovan is editor-in-chief of the Brussels-based publication AGRA FACTS

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€4m biodigester venture by Timoleague company BY EMMA CONNOLLY CORK’S first on-farm biogas plant is up and running outside the West Cork village of Timoleague and is gearing up for its first Spring of distributing organic manure to local farmers. The €4m biodigester is a venture by Timoleague AgriGen Ltd, set up by a local tillage farmer Colin Bateman, local pig farmer Martin O’Donovan and Tipperarybased agri-engineering consultancy NRGE Ltd. While countries like Germany have over 8,500 such facilities, this is one of just six in the entire country and is ground-breaking in terms of reducing methane from food waste, and reducing reliance on fossil fuel energy. Colin Bateman explains how they’re ‘not reinventing the wheel, but are copying what’s being done in other countrues. In effect, we are creating electricity for 1,000 houses out of slurry and the volatile gasses which would otherwise be going into the atmosphere.’ Essentially, the plant takes approved manure and food processing wastes from the district and uses it to create both renewable energy and organic fertiliser. The electricity is sold to supplier Naturgy, and the fertiliser is available to farmers to buy. And, while it’s still early days, future plans by AgriGen include supplying a fuel called compressed natural gas (CNG) to the freight sector to lower emissions and to eventually supply natural gas to the national grid. Work started on the biogas plant, which is based on a nine-acre site, in July 2018; the first load of manure was accepted in February 2019; the first load of food waste was accepted in March 2019 and the first KW of electricity was produced in August. In total, it’s a 500KW electrical output plant capable of processing 35,000 tonnes of biomass per year. It has a licence to process

48,000 tonnes of organic material annually when fully developed (the equivalent of accepting around five loads a day). Here’s how the process works: • Waste from approved sources, including Irish Yogurts, Shannonvale Chicken and Staunton Foods, arrives on site. They are charged via a gate fee and the waste is tipped into an enclosed 75m3 pit. • From there it’s piped into a 500m3 mixing tank where it’s continually stirred. • Next it’s piped into a 2,000m3 primary digester concrete tank where the process of anaerobic digestion begins, crucially in the absence of oxygen, and where microbes break down the biodegradable material, much of which would otherwise end up in landfill. • As more waste is added to this tank, some of it spills into a 4,000m3 secondary digester concrete tank. The waste in both tanks is heated to 55 degrees. • The process takes around 25 days before biogas (60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide), is collected through a pipe, is cleaned and cooled, and used to drive a 500KW CHP (combined heat and power) engine before going to the grid. • Every KW produced is worth 16c (that compares to around 25c in Northern Ireland). Around 500KWs an hour can be exported, 24/7. • The heat that’s created from the CHP is used to pasteurise the waste material in separate tanks to make sure it’s free of pathogens or weed seeds. • It’s piped to two 4,000m3 storage basins from which farmers can fill their tanks. Manager Derry Murphy and Michael McEniry of NRGE, and the project engineer, explain that the benefits of the process are

Pictured at a Digestate Demonstration day at AgriGen, Barryshall, Timoleague Co Cork were speakers Dr Aoife Egan CIT with Michael McEnirney, process Engeneer Oisín Coackley, Teagasc Dr Niamh Power CIT and Eddie Burgess, ACP Teagasc. Photo: Denis Boyle the reduction in waste, reduction in carbon footprint and production of high-nutrient, 95% odour-free digestate. They currently have a few thousand cubic metres of liquid digestate available and, while they acknowledge the wet Spring hasn’t helped, they’re optimistic. ‘This is the way forward. We can’t keep producing electricity from coal; here we’re producing it from material grown locally,’ said Derry. In the future, the Timoleague plant hopes

to also be in a position to accept food from supermarkets that is past its sell-by date. A plant in Nurney in Kildare is currently doing that and employs around 23 people, illustrating the employment potential in the enterprise. There’s also infrastructure in place to power a district heating system which environmentalist Duncan Stewart previously told The Southern Star was the best way for communities to make sure they had a dependable energy supply for the future.


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Grass – new season, new rules By Barry Murray MSc, Chief Agronomist Goldcrop Limited

Clover 2020 has seen the introduction of new measures with regards to clover usage for those farmers who are in, or about to enter, Nitrates Derogation 2020. All new reseeds must contain 1.5 kg/ha (0.6 kg/ha) of naked clover. This includes white clover varieties such as Chieftain in grazing mixtures and red clover varieties such as Fearga in silage mixtures.

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Information from research farms such as Teagasc Moorepark and Clonakilty Agricultural College must also be considered. These are some of the leading research farms in the world and are on our

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Ongoing dock control is extremely important. If clover is an important constituent of the sward then only Eagle of Prospect can be considered.

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If clover is less important then products such as Doxstar Pro or Pastor Trio can be used. A slightly cheaper product on the market this year is Pasture Pack. This is a co formulation of Thrust and Tandus which offers excellent control of docks, thistles and general grassland weeds and can be used up to 4 days prior to silage cutting. It can also be used as a spot treatment option.

In order to keep grass swards yielding at their best potential then it is important to manage them correctly. Use of ‘Easy Care’ Teagasc bred varieties such as Oakpark are designed to meet the needs of intensively stocked farms as they are able to withstand poaching and, when mixed with highly digestible tetraploids such as Astonenergy, are able to extend intervals whilst keeping the grass nice and leafy.

a valuable part of a sward. Mixtures have to include 0.6 kg/acre of clover going ahead but mixtures should be designed to be ‘easy care’ maximising grass intake whilst allowing high livestock numbers on the land. Ongoing control of docks and other weeds should feature as part of any management strategy of a progressive dairy farm. More information can be obtained from your local Agri merchant or Agri coop store.

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to see this catalogue and a complete range of all JMC Parts stock by visiting their website at www.jmcparts.com. Starting with just 1 employee in the early days, JMC Parts has grown to currently employ 22 highly skilled members of staff all of whom have expert product and agricultural knowledge. Always looking to grow and expand the business, John is eager to continue to expand his team to include creative and ambitious individuals who have a keen eye on the future.

‘New investment planned to double the size of the company over the next 5 years’

trip to France, John noticed that agricultural products sold in Ireland were a lot more expensive when compared to the same products sold in France. This inspired John to set up JMC Parts with the aim of providing farmers and contractors across the world with genuine agricultural parts at afforadable prices. With over 30 years’ experience in working with agricultural parts and helping customers find what they need, JMC Parts is the leader in its field. JMC Parts stock over 24 leading agricultural brands such as John Deere, New Holland, Claas, Krone & McHale. There are over 50,000 parts available for an aray of machinery including harvesters, tractors, mowers, balers and ploughs as well as many more. They continue to grow this product range to ensure they meet all their customers needs. As well as parts, JMC Parts is Irelands only official distributor of Grammer Seats in Ireland. Grammer seats are specifically designed to reduce harmful vehicle vibrations, therefore reducing the risk of back and neck injury. This year JMC Parts will be releasing a brand new 2020 Catalogue. You will be able

New Investments The business has continually invested in new staff and tchnology over the past 10 years, having achieved an annual growth of 10% per annum. 50% of all sales are exported to over 30 countries worldwide. New investment planned to double the size of the company over the next 5 years. JMC Parts offer their customers an excellent in-store service. However, considering a large porportion of their customers are located around the world , the vast majority of orders are made over the phone through their experienced and helpful sales team who can help every customer with any queries they might have. JMC Parts are committed in their aim of providing all their customers with the best quality service possible. Therefore the company ensures they have the worlds leading technology to make this happen. For example, JMC Parts currently have fibre braodbrand on location which is essential to ensure that their purchasing and sales departments are able to effectectly connect with both suppliers and customers alike at all times.

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FARM FINANCE

Average loans of €23,554 for stocking and farm buildings ers than beef farmers with average owned holdings of 43HA in comparison to 33HA for beef farmers. Dairy farmers however, had more debt (household and farm), with average debt on a dairy farms 77% higher at €159,377 versus €90,234 for beef farms. The difference between dairy and beef farmers was even in greater, at 98%, in relation to their most common debt level (€107,000 v €54,000). In terms of off-farm income, 90% of beef farmers have off-farm income as opposed to 67% of dairy farmers. While the top five proposed uses of loans on farm are the same for both dairy and beef farmers, there is a different weighting for each type of farm. Farm buildings, equipment and land improvement account for 56% of use of funds for dairy farmers. For beef farmers it is only 37%, showing a different emphasis on farm development. Stocking loans and working capital account for a larger proportion of beef farmer requirements at 29% versus 20% for dairy farmers, highlighting the challenge of cash-

Mr O’Shea concluded: ‘Any farmer who wants to find out more about how to access a Cultivate loan can contact Bantry Credit Union on 027-50535 or go towww.Cultivate-CU.ie.’

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Finbarr O’Shea, CEO of Bantry Credit Union

CULTIVATE, the collaborative credit union finance lending platform for farmers, has released analysis of its 2019 loan applications. The average loan application from farmers in all sectors was €23,554 and this was mainly used for a number of key on farm activities including, stocking and working capital (26%), farm buildings (19%) and tractor purchase (14%). The short to medium term finance option

flow on many suckler and beef enterprises with many suckler beef businesses receiving most of their income in the last quarter of the year. Commenting further, Mr O’Shea said: ‘We are actively looking to increase the number of credit unions involved in Cultivate. We currently have 26 credit unions who have over 70 offices between them. The demand we have from farmers for alternative flexible finance lender is strong and we plan on continuing to enhance the service to farmer members in the coming years.’ He explained that Bantry Credit Union is the only one in West Cork offering the Cultivate farm loan product. The other Cork credit unions participating in the scheme are Ballincollig, Kanturk, Mallow, Mitchelstown, Synergy (Fermoy) and Youghal.

loans. The feedback we’ve received from farmers who take up a Cultivate loan focusses on how easy it is to access the finance. ‘Our review of 2019 loan applications gives some insights into the type of farmer who is accessing our finance and also the use of these funds. As can be seen from our analysis, over 84% of our farmers have off-farm income with 90% of beef farmers having off-farm income.’  

The feedback we’ve received from farmers who take up a Cultivate loan focusses on how easy it is to access the finance has proved very popular with beef farmers who accounted for 64% of the applications with dairy farmers, accounting for 26% of the applications. Speaking on behalf of Cultivate, Finbarr O’Shea, CEO of Bantry Credit Union, noted: ‘Cultivate is a specialist provider of finance to farmers who are looking for flexible unsecured loans under €50,000. It’s worth noting that a farmer doesn’t need to be an existing member of the credit union to avail of these

Beef & dairy The average loan application from a dairy farmer was €27,873 in 2019 in comparison to €21,767 for a beef farmer. This reflects the buoyancy in the dairy sector and the investment that is currently taking place within the farm gate. Dairy farmers were also bigger land own-

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Mental health risks most associated with farming BY EMMA CONNOLLY THERE are particular mental health risk factors associated with farming, according to a survey of dairy farmers conducted by Teagasc, National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) & University of Limerick (UL). According to Teagasc, their study shows that mental distress from farming can arise from ongoing work, time pressure, bureau-

symptoms that farmers should be aware of as: headaches, chronic tiredness and fatigue, musculoskeletal aches and pains, hypertension, rapid heart rate, panic attacks. Emotional symptoms, it says, can include depression, anxiety worry, fear, feelings of powerlessness and being overwhelmed, feeling trapped, frustrated, irritable or angry, loneliness, grief and feeling like crying a lot. Cognitive symptoms can include obsessive thinking, negative thinking, poor short term

The juggling of such competing demands can accumulate to the point that it can lead to stress and poor mental health

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memory, difficulty concentrating, catastrocracy, financial pressure, work unpredictabilphising, mind reading, black and white ity and being at the mercy of the weather. thinking – interpret things as all good or all ‘The juggling of such competing demands bad, unable to see options. can accumulate to the point that it can lead Behavioural symptoms can include expresto stress and poor mental health,’ the study sion of anger, being angry with other people, states. inability to make decisions, chronic comCompromised mental health can manifest plaining, procrastination, withdrawal from in any person in a number of ways – physiGloun Stone Quarries Gloun Stone Quarries family, friends, lack of self care, compulsive cally, emotionally, behaviourally and even Gloun, such Schull, Cahir,patterns, Kenmare, behaviours as change in eating cognitively. Co Cork Co Kerry alcohol and caffeine consumption, gambling In their ‘Coping with the Pressures of Tel 028 28161 Tel 064 6641773 and other addictions. Farming’ resource, Teagasc lists physical

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FIVE WAYS TO WELLBEING To help combat these problems in the agricultural community, Teagasc highlights ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing,’ which are easy to remember and to incorporate into your daily life, and they are:

Keep learning •

Get connected • • •

Feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to well-being. Talk to someone instead of sending a FB message, Snap Chat. Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is feeling.

Take notice • • •

• •

Learning enhances your self-esteem and encourages social interaction, and higher levels of wellbeing. Consider setting yourself a new challenge. Discover a new interest or hobby.

Enjoying and savouring the moment enhances your wellbeing. Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day. Be sensitive and aware of the people around you.

Give • • •

Acts of kindness increase in happiness and wellbeing. Give an hour of your time to a voluntary organisation. Do a good deed for someone.

MINDFULNESS

Be active • •

Regular exercise and physical activity reduce depression and anxiety. Cork Sports Partnership recently said that it’s not enough for farmers to think their active lifestyle will ensure they are fit. They need to build some other activity into their routines. Better still, join or stay part of a local team to feel the dual benefit of friendship and fitness.

There’s been plenty of buzz about mindfulness over the past few years, and you don’t need a quiet room or yoga mat to try it out either. Here are some easy ways farmers can get in on the act, at any moment during the day, as suggested by Teagasc: • One minute exercise: Start by taking several deep breaths. Fill your belly up with air like a balloon and gently let the air out. Focus on your breath for one minute. Breathe in and out slowly, holding your breath for a count of six and slowly exhaling. As your mind wanders to other things, try to bring your attention back to your breath. • Mindful observation: Pick an object in the room and observe it for one minute. Notice the colour, texture, shape, smell, and size of the object. By focusing carefully on one object at a time you can improve your concentration and cool down your thoughts.

Play the game of Five Things: Take notice of five things in your day that usually you don’t take notice of by using your senses. Try to hear, smell, feel, touch or see things that surround you. For example, when you are out and about look around you and see how you can match your five senses to things and sounds around you. This is a particularly good mindful exercise if you are feeling annoyed, stressed or angry about something. Trying these mindful exercises can make a difference. Your skills will develop through regular practice and gradually you will feel the benefits.

NOTE: IFA and Pieta House operate a Mind Our Farm Families dedicated suicide and self-harm phone line, 1890 130 022. The phone line for IFA members will put farmers and their families in direct contact with a Pieta House-trained therapist.


Wellness courses for farmers will be provided by the IFA BY EMMA CONNOLLY THE IFA will shortly introduce wellness courses for farmers to equip them with practical tips to safeguard their mental health. Courtmacsherry farmer and Munster regional chair, Harold Kingston, has been a key driver in organising the training, since he took up office at the start of the year. Harold knows, from his own personal experience, what it feels like to suffer burnout and successfully sought help for his own mental health difficulties back in 2018. He was very open about talking about

how he felt and even appeared on a Late Late Show panel on burn-out. His overwhelming message to farmers is that they don’t need to feel suicidal to feel depressed, and that what affects one person might not affect another. The wellness courses, which will start shortly, will offer practical tips on how to overcome mental health challenges that are particular to the farming community. Harold stressed how important it was to recognise the warning signs when you’re in difficulty, and said that poor herd health is often an indicator that all is not well.

‘That’s a two way thing though - if there’s a welfare issue with a farmer it impacts the herd and vice versa. But what affects one person might not affect another.’ In his case, his burn out was caused by work load, but for someone else problems could be caused by financial woes or problems caused by weather. He said it was also crucial to realise your limits as a farmer and to schedule time off the farm. ‘It’s also important to recognise there are support structures there, and to realise that it might not always be a family member.’

Courtmacsherry farmer Harold Kingston telling his story of getting overwhelmed by work and how he went and sought help during an appearance on the 'Late Late Show' in April of last year.

Me & My Tractor Name: George Jennings. Location: Leap. Tractor make and model: New Holland TM140. Year: 2003. Where did you buy it? From James French Tractors in Leap How long at have owned Tractor it? Pictured theyou Monster Run launch at Skibbereen Mart were representatives of the various groups involved in the bid to get Th ree years. more than 800 modern, classic and vintage tractors to register for the run on August 2nd to raise funds for Pieta House and, hopefully, What it does best? record for the most tractors gathered in the one place at the same time. set a new national Working on the farm.

Monster Tractor Run in Skibbereen to benefit Pieta House

Modifications you have made? None.

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Why is it so special to you? I’ve always liked the model.

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Its proudest moment? The day I collected it.

Would you sell it? No notO’Donovan, at the moment. Declan organiser of Skib-

(Photo: Anne Minihane)

and especially within the farming community. bereen’s Monster Tractor Run on Sunday, They are aiming to break the world record August 2nd, has chosen as the George Jennings andPieta hisHouse tractor will be taking part in the Monster Tractor for most tractors benefifrom ciary charity the Skibbereen, event. nd one place at Cork Run Cork from Marts, on Sunday, Augustin2the , 2020 as they try Marts in Skibbereen on the day. The current Declan who is running the event with to set a new record for the most tractorsrecord in the one place at the same time. is 760, and they hope to smash that Shane Jennings and Andrew Whelton, said Enquiries to 086-8202255. with at least 800. their objective is also to raise awareness of • To enter call 086-8202255 mental health and suicide in rural Ireland

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FIVE WAYS TO WELLBEING To help combat these problems in the agricultural community, Teagasc highlights ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing,’ which are easy to remember and to incorporate into your daily life, and they are:

Keep learning •

Get connected • • •

Learning enhances your self-esteem and encourages social interaction, and higher levels of wellbeing. Consider setting yourself a new challenge. Discover a new interest or hobby.

• •

Feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to well-being. Talk to someone instead of sending a FB message, Snap Chat. Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is feeling.

Me & My Tractor Name: George Jennings.

Coppeen - 023 884 7005 Bantry - 027 30099 E: info@barrettagri.ie

Location: Leap. Tractor make and model: New Holland TM140. Take notice

• Enjoying and savouring the moment enhances your wellbeing. Year: • Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day. 2003. •

Be sensitive and aware of the people around you.

Where did you buy it? From James French Tractors in Leap How long have you owned it? Three years. What it does best? Working on the farm. Modifications you have made? None. Why is it so special to you? I’ve always liked the model. Its proudest moment? The day I collected it. Would you sell it? No not at the moment.

Be active George Jennings and his tractor will be taking part in the Monster Tractor

• Regular exercise andSkibbereen, physical activity reduce depression anxiety. Run from Cork Marts, on Sunday, August 2ndand , 2020 as they try • Cork Sports Partnership recently said that it’s not enough for farmers to think to set a new record for the most tractors in the one place at the same time. their active lifestyle will ensure they are fit. They need to build some other Enquiries tointo 086-8202255. activity their routines. Better still, join or stay part of a local team to feel the dual benefit of friendship and fitness.

www.barrettagri.ie Give • • •

‘We’re for FARMERS’ Acts of kindness increase in happiness and wellbeing. Give an hour of your time to a voluntary organisation. Do a good deed for someone.

• Animal Feeds, Minerals and Fertilizers • Grass and Beet Seed MINDFULNESS • Winter/Spring Cereal Seed • Play the game of Five Things: Take There’s been plenty of buzz about mindful• Maize Crop Specialists notice of five things in your day that ness over the past few years, and you don’t and Plastics usually you don’t take notice of by need• aGeneral quiet roomFarm or yogaHardware mat to try it out either. • Crop Chemicals and Crop Walkingusing your senses. Try to hear, smell, feel, touch or see things that surround Here are some easy ways farmers can get • Full Technical Backup Service you. For example, when you are out in on the act, at any moment during the 112 Fuels and Bottled Gas and about look around you and see day,•asSolid suggested by Teagasc: IN CASE OF EMERGENCY

One minute Start by taking Contact oneexercise: of our Sales Team several deep breaths. Fill your belly up BANTRY TEAM with air like a balloon and gently let Colm O’Dwyer - 087 250 7216 John Manager - 086 breath 0213383for the Dineen, air out.Store Focus on-your Jerry Murray 087 280 2976 Roland Whelton, Area Manager - 087 9429113 oneCronin, minute. and out slowly, Mark AreaBreathe Manager-in - 086 086 3888719 Shane Healy 825 5524 holding your breath for a count of six and slowly exhaling. As your mind wanders to other things, try to bring your attention back to your breath. • Mindful observation: Pick an object in the room and observe it for one minute. Notice the colour, texture, shape, smell, and size of the object. By focusing carefully on one object at a time you can improve your concentration and cool down your thoughts.

how you can match your five senses to things and sounds around you. This is COPPEENaJohn TEAM particularly mindful exercise Dineengood - 086 021 3383 John O’Riordan, Areafeeling Managerannoyed, - 087 3347414 if youWhelton are stressed or Roland 087 942 9113 Jerry Murray, Area Manager - 087 2802976 angryArea about something. Trying these Kevin Smiddy, Manager 087 9337726 Kevin Smiddy - 087 933 7726 Mark McCarthy, Area Manager -can 087 make 9944157 mindful exercises a differGavin 087develop 334 7414 ence. YourHunt skills-will through regular practice and gradually you will feel the benefits. NOTE: IFA and Pieta House operate a Mind Our Farm Families dedicated suicide and self-harm phone line, 1890 130 022. The phone line for IFA members will put farmers and their families in direct contact with a Pieta House-trained therapist.


SPONSORED CONTENT

Clon’s centre of excellence providing agricultural training since 1905

Me & My Tractor

Lisa Harrington & Lynda Blake, Beara are pictured with college lecturer David Hallissey at a Teagasc careers open day at Clonakilty Agricultural College. Photo O’Gorman Photography

CAO and spend up to 40% of their time in Clonakilty Name: Agricultural College was Clonakilty. established in 1905 and has become George Jennings. Teagasc has a student support system for renowned as a centre of excellence for the students with specific learning requirements provision of agricultural training. Location: and will help guide them through their Located three miles outside Clonakilty, Leap. course. there are currently 440 students attending The college farm consists of 280 acres, the college make across the various courses. Tractor and model: run to reflect the practices adopted on In the Teagasc Advanced New Holland TM140. Certificate, commercial farms. students specialise in dairy herd or drystock The dairy enterprise, on 210 acres, has management. This two-year fulltime Year: just over 200 cows calving every year. 120 of course 2003.prepares students to take over the these are used as part of a research trial in management of a farm through theory Where didskills, you such buy asit?working with conjunction with the Moorepark Animal & and practical livestock and machinery, with an emphasis From James French Tractors in Leap Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, looking at production levels with or without on sustainability, environmental protection, Howand long have you Across ownedtheit?two clover, at two levels of fertiliser application. safety farm finances. 70 acres are used for three drystock years, Threestudents years.spend six months on systems, including 25 suckler cows, 24 dairy placement on a host farm in three separate What it does best? calves and 55 ewes. blocks. Working on themaintenance farm. The tillage enterprise, on 10 acres, is used A means-tested grant is for growing wholecrop for feeding on the available for students attending this course. Modifi you have farm. This allows students to plough and There iscations also a Teagasc Greenmade? Cert for None. sow crops every autumn. non-agricultural award holders. This is Students that attend the various done on a part-time basis over 20 months. Why isintake it so isspecial to you? courses are involved in all aspects of the Th e next September 2020 and I’ve alwaysareliked model. farm, including grassland and livestock applications beingthe taken from March 16. management. For over 23s, the Green Cert can be done Its proudest moment? Career possibilities stemming from the part-time in conjunction with the Cork The Advisory day I collected agricultural courses on offer are now very West Unit. Theit. next intake for this diverse and there are many opportunities is 2021. Would you sell it? available. As well as a career in farming, Students can progress from the college’s No notcourses at thetomoment. many progress to other sectors within the fulltime higher level courses agricultural industry, such as professions in which lead to a Level 8 degree. co-operatives and The higher-level courses on off er are awill BSc beadvisory George Jennings and his tractor taking and parteducation, in the Monster Tractor nd private agricultural in Agriculture, which is run in conjunction on Sunday, Run from Cork Marts, Skibbereen, August 2businesses. , 2020 as they try with Cork IT, and a BSc in Agricultural to set a new record for the most tractorsForinmore the information, one place at the same time. Science which can be done with UCC or IT visit www.teagasc.ie/clonakilty Enquiries to 086-8202255. Tralee. Students apply for these through the

Conor Kerins, Scartagh & Simon Walsh, Ahiohill are pictured with college lecturer Ciara O’Donovan at a Teagasc careers open day at Clonakilty Agricultural College. Photo O’Gorman Photography

Clonakilty Agricultural College

We are now taking applications for September-starting Full-time & distance-Ed course in Agriculture Secure your place by applying online at teagasc.ie/clonakilty

Scan the code:


FIVE WAYS TO WELLBEING

A grass-fed Irish beef burger - why fix it when it’s not broken?

To help combat these problems in the agricultural community, Teagasc highlights ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing,’ which are easy to remember and to incorporate into your daily life, and they are:

Keep learning • • •

Get connected • • •

Feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to well-being. Talk to someone instead of sending a FB message, Snap Chat. Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is feeling.

BY HELEN O’SULLIVAN

media outlets telling us how bad red meat is for us and the environment. People are being misinformed: I have a beef with this! It’s time someone stood up for the farming community. We have the best grass-fed meat in the world. The health benefits of grass-fed meat include high in omega 3 oil, essential for brain development; Vitamin B12 (which is not inherent in plant-based burgers) helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy; iron and zinc keep the immune system working properly; protein, which helps build bones, muscles and iron. In fact, grass-fed beef contains almost every nutrient we need to survive. Take notice Why substitute the best with plant-based • Enjoying and savouring the moment enhances foods likeyour veganwellbeing. burgers? Their main ingre• Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day. dient is genetically-modified, glyphosate• Be sensitive and aware of the people around you. resistant soybeans being transported across the globe adding to its carbon footprint. No I WONDER what will be in fashion next? traceability whatsoever! Currently veganism is very much in vogue Studies have shown significant dietary – unfortunately at the expense of farmer’s deficiencies in vegan or plant-based diets livelihoods. versus a balanced diet. It’s a person’s own I am a beef farmer and feel we are very choice if they want to become vegan, but much under attack! Constant bashing from

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Be active • •

Learning enhances your self-esteem and encourages social interaction, and higher levels of wellbeing. Consider setting yourself a new challenge. Discover a new interest or hobby.

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ISEN. 206-1:2002 approved. Member of the Murnane & O’Shea Group.

Regular exercise and physical activity reduce depression and anxiety. Cork Sports Partnership recently said that it’s not enough for farmers to think their active lifestyle will ensure they are fit. They need to build some other activity into their routines. Better still, join or stay part of a local team to feel the dual benefit of friendship and fitness.

stop pushing people to make this decision to in keeping the soil conditioned and healthy and help in this carbon sequestration. There ‘save the world’ and stop laying the blame at should be more focus on how to reward the the beef farmers’ door! beef farmer for the way we farm, producing Climate change is a hot topic at the mothe best product in the world, instead of all ment. It’s imperative we all do our part, in every sector. Ireland’s beef farmers are in the the negative press that is thrown at us. More money should be invested in top five in the EU for carbon-efficiency. The anaerobic digesters to convert the bad gases majority of Irish farms are carbon-neutral. (slurry/methane) into good gases which can We produce our food to a very high be used as an energy source, i.e. produce standard and take great care of the envielectricity, generating an income for the ronment while doing so through different farmer while helping Ireland reach it’s carschemes like GLAS (Green, Low-carbon, bon targets. See page 11. Agri-environment Scheme), SBLAS (SusWhy fix it when it’s not broken? I’m of the tainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme) view that plant-based burgers have a higher and the Organic Farming Scheme. carbon footprint and fewer health benefits The three main greenhouse gases are Give prime-quality grass-fed meat.Why Methane (CH4), Carbon Dioxide (CO2) • Acts of kindness increase in happiness than and our wellbeing. settle for anything less when we have the and Nitrous Oxide (N2O). Carbon Dioxide • Give an hour of your time to a voluntary organisation. and Nitrous Oxide have a very long lifespan. best? •OnceDo good deed someone. Suckler farm families need to be supporttheyaare in the air,for they stay there for ed or else WE will be a dying breed! We play hundreds maybe thousands of years. a very important role in the social fabric of Methane, which is produced from cattle, rural Ireland.  MINDFULNESS only stays in the air for 10 years. So, after a decade, gone. • Play the game of Five Things: Take There’s it’s been plenty of buzz about mindful• Helen O’Sullivan is a beef farmer, Ourover hedgerows, grassyears, and soil huge notice of five things in your day that ness the past few and are youadon’t living near Bantry. carbon an important usually you don’t take notice of by need asink. quietCattle room play or yoga mat to try itrole out using your senses. Try to hear, smell, either. feel, touch or see things that surround Here are some easy ways farmers can get you. For example, when you are out in on the act, at any moment during the and about look around you and see day, as suggested by Teagasc: how you can match your five senses to • One minute exercise: Start by taking things and sounds around you. This is several deep breaths. Fill your belly up a particularly good mindful exercise with air like a balloon and gently let if you are feeling annoyed, stressed or the air out. Focus on your breath for angry about something. Trying these one minute. Breathe in and out slowly, mindful exercises can make a differholding your breath for a count of six ence. Your skills will develop through and slowly exhaling. As your mind regular practice and gradually you will wanders to other things, try to bring feel the benefits. your attention back to your breath. insured •• Fully Mindful observation: Pick an object • ICBF NOTE: IFA and Pieta House operate a Mind in the registered room and observe it for one • BEEP Scheme Approved Our Farm Families dedicated suicide and minute.2Notice the colour, texture, self-harm phone line, 1890 130 022. The shape, smell, and size of thecare object.of By • All paperwork taken phone line for IFA members will put farmers focusing carefully on one object at a Contact: time you can improve your concentra- and their families in direct contact with a Leotion O’Shea 322 Pieta House-trained therapist.  and cool083 down your4164 thoughts.

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Dairy farmers in the market for good agricultral land Demand for agricultural land in West Cork driven by strong milk prices writes Emma Connolly STRONG milk prices and a small number of progressive, working farmers are driving the demand for agricultural land in West Cork. And, with some of the country’s best available dairy land in West Cork, not surprisingly interest is coming from over the border in Kerry, from London and as far away as South Africa. Hodnett Forde, Clonakilty, who handle some of the major agricultural sales in West Cork, say Brexit along with the increase in commercial stamp duty in the last budget both had an impact on business towards the end of last year. Sales that were being negotiated before the 1.5% increase from 6% to 7.5% did become an issue, according to John Hodnett, but 2020 is off to a lively start with a number of farm sales already concluded in South and West Cork. In general, a run of good agricultural land will make between €12,000 and €15,000 per acre in West Cork, compared to the average price in 2019 of between €8,800 and €9,000, down by about 3% on the previous year. Hodnett Forde sold holdings ranging from 123 acres to 10 acres last year. Their highest price per acre was €22,200 in the Clonakilty area; and it went down the scale to €7,600 an acre in the Skibbereen area.

The bumper sale was a 10-acre block in the Clonakilty region last year to a nonfarmer which is currently let for beet. Ernest Forde said that, while development was previously driving sales, it’s now very much coming from the working farmer with banks very willing to finance purchases. The experienced auctioneers say that Carbery is creating great confidence in the sector with its premium milk prices, however they do anticipate some Brexit uncertainty may return later this year. They are confident however that small to medium holdings will always command a good price in the area.

Interestingly, people who have been left farms by parents or relatives, are now mainly choosing to keep houses as holiday homes, and leasing the land. These are the type of people in good jobs elsewhere in the country and who can avail of the tax benefits by leasing. ‘But if we had thousands of acres to lease, we could, the demand is so strong,’ said Ernest. Foreign interest is also quite strong, they say with interest coming from South Africa while they recently sold a house and land in Goleen to an American. ‘Prices don’t frighten them. They want the lifestyle,’ said Ernst.

Land to lease

Rare availability

The demand for land to lease is enormous, the pair say, with tax-free incentives for the landlord making it a particularly attractive option. Some deals have now been re-negotiated three or four times over and many acres of land have never returned to the market, hence the current shortage. It’s also an attractive option for new entrants to farming who are keen to lease bare land (no entitlements) as it qualifies them for particular schemes.

Daniel Lehane, of Lehane and Associates in Dunmanway agreed that the right quality farm will continue to achieve strong prices. That was borne out by his sale of a 55-acre farm outside the town earlier this year – the first time a farm in Dunmanway had become available in years. He had anticipated it would go under the hammer for €500,000 to €520,000 but the final price was €567,500 or €8,600 an acre. He will shortly have another 80 acre farm suitable for dairy coming to market.

Land near Dunmanway, he said, typically sells for between €8,000 and €10,000 an acre while in more dairy-intensive areas like Ardfield-Rathbarry that would be closer to €12,500. The two types of agri land buyers currently in the market he said were those in dairy expansion and forestry. ‘Dairying is doing well and, when things are going well, these are good people to progress,’ he said. A key feature he notes when valuing land is the availability of neighbouring land: ‘The first thing I’d do is look over the ditches or the neighbouring land and see if they might be in expansion mode.’ Farms usually come to market through executor sales or retirements. ‘Some people realise that their children don’t have any interest in taking on the farm, that they have their health and make the intelligent, but also brave call to sell up and have the good of it while they are still alive which is a good business decision,’ said Daniel. Daniel is confident that 2020 will be a strong year in terms of sales: ‘The appetite from farmers is there and so are the milk prices.”


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Viable farms don’t have to be huge Smaller, more efficiently-run operations often better for achieving a good work-life balance Sinéad Deane explains EFFICIENT use of time and resources in any business leads the optimal outcome. This is borne through in farming just as well, although farming may not be seen by everyone to be as demanding of future planning decisions and intensive mapping out. However, when planned out well, it can lead to very profitable results for the labour and capital deployed. Upon review of 2019 farming calendar tax year results, this message has once again been proven where in West Cork we have some expert farming practitioners, deploying adequate resources of labour and capital to provide maximum gains and let’s review some of the key characteristics to assist. To quote a statement heard recently in one our offices, ‘You don’t need to be milking a vast number of cows to achieve a viable farm profit.’ There are so many factors at play to give differing outcomes to each individual farming enterprise. namely those of: • land base available • existing borrowing or financial commitments • upgrade of facilities / buildings • labour assistance availability • stocking intensity • off farm commitments • work-life balance • management skills • ability to take risks • ability to make decisions, etc. However individually, or indeed collectively, these – once applied – can vary outcomes substantially.

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The following reflects what can be achieved when a system is managed effectively and efficiently: A 32-hectare holding carrying 70 dairy cows. The total milk yield achieved for the 2019 calendar year was 436,000 litres. This equates to a milk yield of 6,229 litres per cow. The gross milk sale per cow was €2,600. If you factor in cull cow sales and calf sales, this equates to a total sales per livestock unit of €2,800. The milk price per litre achieved was 38.44c, again if the sale of other stock is factored in, this adds an additional 5c per litre giving a gross of 43.44c per litre.

The total costs per litre of milk produced was 23.5c. The net profit per cow achieved was €1,462. The average meal feeding per cow was 1.64 tonnes. The stocking rate was 2.40 livestock per unit per hectare. This farm has one full-time labour unit with the spouse working off-farm. They have a young family, so the life-work balance is very important to them. They try to have as much quality family time together as possible. This is achieved by using agricultural contractors, compact spring calving, using farm relief services or part-time labour for busy times and periods of absences from the farm, ensuring they take a family holiday each year. This is what family farm life should look like in an ideal world and it is important that we focus on all that is good of such farming enterprises. Use of family labour is beneficial, not alone to the enterprise itself, but to all members involved. Efficient decisions are taken to produce the above outcomes, deployment of labour and assistance is sought for additional contracting services and this leads to additional freedom of time to family life and demands. Focus should be kept on maintaining the family farm as we all know it and encouragement of inter-generational transition of the land is far more successful where the enterprise is well ran and a happy workplace for all parties. It should be said that all farmers may not be as fortunate as the example taken, an additional income to the home, where sacrifices and hard decisions are often made to pay for childcare, or covering for each other, can benefit substantially from an income and security point of view to the overall financial means, but indeed based on the profitability exhibited above, in particular for 2019, it is encouraging that reasonable-sized dairy enterprises can be very viable with forward financial planning and having your financial statements completed in a timely manner. Sinéad Deane is an accountant with FDC Financial Services in Bandon.


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by John Crowley WE are in the sixth and final year of the first Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP 1). It is this year that your herd must meet the most difficult targets set by the scheme, those of the replacement strategy. Penalties will be incurred if the targets

Programme → Eligibility Profiles. This screen lays out very clearly your own situation and is your starting point. If you are meeting your requirements, you can see by how much and ensure you stay that way by not selling eligible animals. If you are not meeting the targets, what are your options? You could still meet the requirements in-herd by genotyping females born before June 30, 2019 and ensuring you have their genomic evaluation back by October 31st. Use your BDGP Euro-Star Report and pick the cows/heifers that are four or five star but do not have a genomic evaluation. You must genotype 60% of the reference number of females anyway. You can request hair cards from the ICBF for more animals at a cost of €22 each. This service is available online under Genomic Services. To ensure you have a genomic evaluation back to be included for the October 31st deadline, samples must be in the laboratory by July 8th. Buy in genotyped four- or five-star cows / heifers. The mart screen will show if an animal is four- or five-star, but you need to ensure it also shows a genomic evaluation down on the bottom right of the screen. If not, you will have to get her genotyped and she may fall below four-star on genotyping.

The big one is the 50% requirement for four - and five-star cows/heifers on October 31st, which incurs a 140% penalty.

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are not met. The big one is the 50% requirement for four- and five-star cows / heifers on October 31st, which incurs a 140% penalty. So, not only will you not receive any payment for this year, you will also be deducted a further 40% of the gross payment from another scheme. The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) will be writing to the farms not meeting their requirements to inform them of where they stand and what the penalty for non-compliance will be. However, this information is available online on the ICBF website, which is live and will give you the most up-to-date picture. Simply login to your ICBF account, go to Services → Beef Data and Genomics

The same applies if buying directly off farm, ensure the seller prints you her star rating, she is genotyped and born prior to June 30th, 2019 before you purchase. Maintain your four- or five-star stock bull, but if you replace him, it must be with another four- or five-star stock bull. AI is straightforward, but if you are using both AI and stock bulls, you must meet the requirements of both. If you are unsure about any of the above please contact your local Teagasc advisor or the ICBF on 023-883 2883. John Crowley is a drystock adviser with Teagasc Cork West region.


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Fun Q&A with Carmel Cullinane Carmel, from Clonakilty Macra na Feirme, who is the Carbery Macra region Blue Jean Country Queen title holder for 2020, tells The Southern Star about her life, likes and dislikes, and reveals what makes her tick … Where were you born? Cork. Family: Mother and two older sisters. Schools attended: St Joseph’s Girls’ National School, Clonakilty; Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, and University College Cork. Occupation: Customer care agent. Best friend: My fiancé, Joseph. Earliest childhood memory: ‘Helping’ my dad milk the cows. Apart from your family, who would be the first person you would invite to your birthday party? Kate Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge. I have a real fascination with the royal

family and would love to get some inside information on royal life. She also has a very enviable wardrobe! Public figure you admire the most: Fr Peter McVerry – he set up his charity to provide housing and support for young people in Ireland experiencing homelessness, and he continues to respond to those in need through advocacy and the development of new services. His work is just as relevant in today’s society as it was when he first started. Public figure that irritates you the most: Boris Johnson - need I say more! Where’s your favourite place in the world? Edinburgh – it’s a beautiful city which blends the old with the new effortlessly, from its architecture to its culture. And of course the Scottish accent adds to its charm. Favourite place in West Cork? Clonakilty town - while it is situated in a very scenic part of our emerald isle. I think the real star of Clonakilty town is its incredible community spirit which is forward-thinking, inclusive and innovative.

Dinner party at home or a night in the pub? Night in the pub - I love a good trad session! What’s your signature dish, if you’re cooking? Perfectly-cooked scrambled eggs. Hangover cure: Maxi Twist ice cream. Favourite sporting moment: Katie Taylor winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics.

Your proudest moment: Performing on the Cork Opera House stage alongside Iarla Ó Lionáird, Duke Special and Colin Dunne.

Favourite book: ‘Anne of Green Gables.’ Favourite film: ‘Pride & Prejudice.’

What makes you happy? A nice cup of tea in good company.

Favourite TV programme: ‘The Crown.’

How would you like to be remembered? Dependable, loyal, focused and trustworthy.

Favourite heart-throb or pin-up: Robert Pattinson Morning person or night owl? Night owl Christmas morning or Midsummer’s Day? Christmas morning.

West Cork is so special because … it supports the people and the people support it. There is a real sense of pride in this large community which is progressive in all areas of society while also cherishing and nurturing its traditional roots.

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CAP funding will have massive implications for rural economy according to West Cork ICMSA chair The chairperson of West Cork ICMSA has said that the CAP funding debate that began last month in Brussels has the most significant implications for a heavily farming-dependent county like Cork. Clonakilty farmer, Eileen Calnan, said that ICMSA was operating on the basis that, if the Commission’s proposals were to be accepted, then Irish farmers’ direct payments would fall from €1.2 billion per annum to €1.08 billion, while Rural Development payments would fall from

€330 million per annum to €225 million for the duration of the seven-year deal. Ms Calnan said that the falls involved would be ‘catastrophic’ for the farm families involved, but also stressed that it was these payments going into the wider rural economy that was the lifeblood of many rural commercial businesses and service providers. ‘Always remember that the multiplier effect of the farmer’s spend is at least 1.8 and what that means is that the effect of the farmers’ spend in County

Cork is nearly doubled as it goes into their local economies. ‘The converse of that is equally true: if the farmers don’t have that money to spend, then the negative effect is very disproportionate and everybody has to understand that that getting a fair and reasonable CAP is absolutely necessary for counties all over Ireland where farming and food production is the biggest industry, counties like Cork,’ she said.

Eileen Calnan

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ICMSA has represented farm families from West Cork and all over Ireland at local, national and European level with diligence, integrity and an emphasis on finding solutions to their problems that has been our trademark for 70 years. We’re the specialist family dairy farm organisation with an unrivalled record of sound analysis and a focus on farm incomes. We are organised by - and work for – farmers. And only farmers. Chairperson of West Cork ICMSA: Eileen Calnan, Clonakilty, 086-2034998 Vice Chairperson of West Cork ICMSA: John O’Mahony, Bantry, 086-8500952 Cork Area Development Officer: Barry O’Keeffe, 087-1622049 Cahir, Co.Tippereary Tel: 052 7441 590

Pat O’Brien Agent for West Cork/Kerry Tel: 086 263 0286

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Bantry Credit Union is one of 26 credit unions in Ireland offering Cultivate farm loans. We are the only credit union in West Cork offering this product. If you live or work within the area highlighted on the map and you want to know more, please contact us.

Visit Cultivate-CU.ie Bantry Office

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If you do not meet the repayments on your loan, your account will go into arrears. This may affect your credit rating, which may limit your ability to access credit in the future. Loans are subject to approval. Terms and conditions apply. Bantry Credit Union Ltd is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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Farming Spring/Summer 2020  

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