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Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

Welcome to our Spring Farming Supplement Recent conditions making life very difficult for farmers BY BILLY BROWNE We in Topic Newspapers Ltd are pleased to bring you our Spring Farming Supplement which is available in the Westmeath Topic, Athlone Topic, Offaly Topic and Meath Topic. We thank our advertisers and contributors and we would ask

you to support our advertisers as they are well set to help you with all your requirements. The Arctic winds that are sweeping across the country at the moment are making conditions very difficult for our farmers. Heavy rain and sub zero temperatures have forced farmers to re-house their stock.

In the midlands while conditions have been difficult we probably have escaped some of the worst conditions in comparison with what the farming community have suffered in the north and south of the country. We hope normal tempera-

tures will soon return, because at the moment grass growth is very poor and farmers are not buying in as a result. Dairy farmers are also hit as milk yields are down. Some farmers are finding it difficult at the moment to access credit, while ICMSA President, John Comer

IFA president emphasises importance of family farm at meeting in this region At a recent meeting in this area the President of the IFA, John Bryan, outlined clearly that these are crucial times for the future of the family farm and outlined how important the ongoing CAP negotiations and other issues were to the future of Irish farming. During a presentation to the local IFA in County Roscommon Mr. Bryan described EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolas as “a communist from Romania” who doesn’t understand the importance of the family farm.” He also emphasised the importance of ongoing national co-financing as a part of the funding process and the need to help the productive farmer to continue in that vein. He maintained that Mr Ciolas hadn’t any concept of the family farm. “What they have in Romania is collective farming. Mr Ciolas is in favour of regionalisation, but regionalisation is a dangerous thing, which could catch out the more intensive farmer who has made a huge investment in his business,” the IFA president noted. The main topic of discussion during the meeting was the current talks on reform of the EU Common Agriculture Policy in which the IFA is seeking a rural development package that supports vulnerable sectors and regions. He said that “2013 will be a critical year for deciding the future of the family farm. The decisions made in these few months, and the EU Bud-

get and CAP will set the policy framework for the next seven years to 2020. They are very difficult and complex negotiations and we’re fighting for a budget worth €11 billion over the next seven years to the Irish economy. That is why 20,000 farmers demonstrated outside the Dail last winter, the largest farming protest seen in Dublin for over a decade to deliver a clear message to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Simon Coveney that the right outcome will underpin Ireland’s potential for growth in farming and food”. “However, the wrong outcome will completely undermine food 2020 and destroy many thousands of family farms. Farmers will hold the Taoiseach and the Minister directly responsible for the outcome of those negotiations.” He said that as early as last summer there were problems for farmers with the weather, increasing costs and decreasing profits, and “incomes were under serious pressure…..throughout the year the IFA made it clear to Mr. Coveney that there was no scope to cut farm schemes and during the Autumn we met many FG TDs on this issue: then while the Minister had increased the growth targets for beef by 40% - yet in the Budget he substituted the suckler scheme thereby undermining the biggest pillar of our beef strategy and the Minister’s decision was wrong.” Farmers are extremely concerned that EU countries could transfer up to 15% of their rural development bud-


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IFA President, John Bryan, knows there will be changes as a result of CAP negotiations.

get to direct payments in Pillar 1, which covers the Single Farm Payment. Transferring money from Pillar 2 to Pillar 1 avoids the need for national co-financing. The president urged farmers to put pressure on their local TDs to ensure the government matched the 313 million euro proposed for Ireland in Pillar 2 programmes-schemes such as the Suckler Cow and Disadvantaged Area Schemes, which supported the development of rural areas. He pointed out that the proposal put forward to have a minimum payment – in this case to be about €196 per hectare, there would be some increase in payments while others would decrease, perhaps by between 10% and 33%. He estimated that of 5,600 farmers in Roscommon, 3,000 farmers would lose something and approximately 2,500 would gain from the proposals. One of his clear concerns was that by turning to what is termed the flattening model, a land-based method of assessment, that would not work to the benefit of the more active farmers, in effect costing them money. “We have to hold onto as much funding as possible. We are trying to ensure payment for the active farmer, the farmer who is willing to work; not the farmer who never built a shed or never bought a tractor. We have two major jobs: to secure the money in Brussels and make sure the Irish government co-finances the money,” Mr Bryan explained.

The IFA president outlined that Ireland’s Pillar 1 allocation was facing a cut of 3.3% while Pillar 2 funding would be cut by over 10%. “The first cut kicks in during October, the cuts are higher in Ireland than in other countries. The net contributors- the Germans, the British, the Dutch and the Danish- want to cut the agriculture budget but without consensus between the commission, the council and the parliament there won’t be a deal. We need to make the European taxpayer see that agriculture is important, that if they put money into agriculture, it will create employment,” he commented. On the issue of Greening, where as the word suggests there is an emphasis on environmental matters such as maintaining permanent grassland and crop diversification, and that would be conditional on some of the payments being received, he said farmers could manage that and meet regulations on matters such as permanent grassland and crop diversification. The organisation’s president acknowledged that it has been ‘a strange year’ weather-wise for farmers. “It was like summer this time last year and now we’re close to having a 12-month winter. The cost of food, feed and fertiliser has risen but grass is still three weeks away and that is putting huge pressure on farmers. There is need for transfer of fodder and we are talking to banks and co-ops about the need for flexibility.”

has called on Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to make an application to the EU Solidarity Fund to provide financial assistance to farmers. The IFA has asked co-ops, feed mills and banks to stand by their farmer customers at this time of stress for farmers.

As we know once soil temperatures increase, grass growth will recover very fast and we certainly look forward to this happening. We would ask you to look through this Supplement where you will find agricultural outlets who will make life a bit easier for you.

Substantial cuts in income of farmers, says ICMSA President Commenting on the agreement reached recently by the EU Farm Council, the President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), John Comer, said that a number of compromises had been reached that would certainly assist Ireland in addressing various anomalies but he said the reality that must be remembered is that farm families throughout the country are still facing substantial cuts to their payments. Mr. Comer said that it is also important that people realise that this agreement does not represent the ‘endgame’ of the process and that tripartite discussions between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission must now take place, leading to more

John Comer, President ICMSA. uncertainty for farmers, until agreement is reached which is expected in June. It is essential that the flexibilities secured are retained in the final agreement. The ICMSA President said that while the agreement will need careful analysis it

appears that useful flexibilities have been achieved, including the option of choosing 2012 as the base year, which should help to remove speculation from the land rental market. Provisions has also been made that provides alternatives to complete flattening of payments – which is a positive development. However, Mr. Comer said that there are major challenges ahead to structure an agreement that will take account of Irish concerns and he was adamant that the coupling proposal at 7% is a retrograde step and he also expressed his disappointment that Ireland does not have discretion on introducing an overall upper limit or ‘ceiling’on payments.

Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013



Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

It’s official: it is now ‘cool’ to be a farmer! BY MARGARET GRENNAN

It is now ‘cool’ to be a farmer...once upon a time and not so very long ago during the Celtic Tiger period sons and daughters of farmers were turning their backs on family farms and dreaming of wonderful lifestyles in cities and towns around Ireland, but now having an acre or two is considered a blessing in disguise. The future of farming appears to be a healthy one as more and more young people are now considering their options for a career in the industry. It is also understood that the numbers of young people seeking entry to agricultural college is on the increase. Westmeath County Councillor John Dolan, (FG), who farms near Athlone, told the monthly meeting of Westmeath County Council, that one of his own sons is now considering going to agricultural college. The Councillor was speaking during a debate on the future of rural Ireland. As reported in last week’s TOPIC CEDRA (Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas), the new Government Commission established to look in the future

Frankie Keena. economic development of rural Ireland, is chaired by former Kerry footballer, Pat Spillane. Director of Services, Mr. Barry Kehoe, in a briefing presentation on CEDRA to the Councillors, spoke of the challenges facing rural development and signalled that CEDRA has been established to look at those and also on possible opportunities up to 2025. Mr. Spillane and the Commission will have to have their report completed and delivered to the Minister for the Environment in September. Announcing that the period of Public Consultation is ongoing to April 30th, 2013, next, Mr. Kehoe

said they were hopeful there would be as many submissions as possible. Members of the public are urged to make submissions. Meanwhile, it was confirmed towards the conclusion of the debate on the issue that a submission on behalf of County Westmeath could be put together by the County Development Board, while the Councillors and WCC will also form part of that. The Councillors were also asked to come up with their submissions to be incorporated into the main submission from County Westmeath. Cllr. Mick Dollard, (Labour), believed that the County Development Boards had a role to play in this. He felt that the Westmeath County Development Board should form part of any submission made by the County Council to CEDRA going forward. There was mention of the mass and ongoing emigration from rural Ireland, while the lack of employment opportunities is also a matter of serious concern for families across the country, blame was laid at the door of the previous Fianna Fail-Labour Government. Cllr. Denis Leonard, (Labour), pointed the finger

Hoping the horsemeat problem has been solved for Irish agriculture BY BILLY BROWNE

As an ordinary consumer with an interest in farming from days gone by I am wondering has the horsemeat problem been solved. Can we be sure that its all sorted and that the minister has made sure that horsemeat will not raise its ugly head again in our food. 25 horses were presented at a horsemeat factory recently with falsified passports. This incident was brought to life when the authorities put in their own staff into the factory. If they had not done this what would have happened. The people I feel sorry for are the genuine farmers. They run a good ship and, of course, are tied up with so much red tape and officialdom that it must be very tough on them to see their reputation being destroyed in front of the eyes of the world. Obviously meat buyers will be anxious to buy quality stock from us now which is a good thing, but will everybody involved in the food chain do as they should. Money seems to be the be all and end all. Is this going to be the last time we will be shown up taking the various by roads around the rules to

make easy money. Farmers in this country work hard to make a living, they produce top quality food, milk, etc., but their good name is being attacked by people who are too greedy to go the normal routes of business and who want to increase their profits substantially. This is a serious wake-up call and needs to be addressed, and unless it’s taken very seriously and managed properly, where is the next scandal lurking. So government legislators, government officials, company directors, company employees, you must all share responsibility for seeing that things are as they should be. If they are not you should know about it, don’t turn the blind eye. Overall the scandal isn’t hugely different to that of the banking sector: an absence of regulation and a certain greed that seemingly saw corners being cut. There is one sense in which it has helped the local farmer – many consumers are finding it difficult to trust the multi-national selling large numbers of cheap burgers anymore and so they are turning to local butchers who are taking their supplies from reliable local farmers where

transparency is very clear. In the heel of the reel there are no less than four million domestic consumers of Irish meat, not to mention another 320 million consumers in Europe who have unfortunately saw the name “Ireland” tagged to the horsemeat issue. The burgers that Irish people now buy more of in their local butchers may be something more expensive that what they buy in the multiples, but at the end of the day they at least can be sure of what they are buying and its quality. Given the recent controversy there is perhaps a potential there for Irish farmers (and their butchers) to grow the market for their product based on its quality, and then perhaps upgrade that aspect even further in foreign markets by ensuring high quality, even if the cost is a little extra. Clearly great efforts must be made to ensure that this controversy is now firmly put aside through positive enforcement of regulation to ensure that people are pleased with the quality of Irish meat – and that they know where exactly it comes from. Hopefully these efforts are now in train.

of blame at the previous Government, citing the choices made when the country was progressing had come back to haunt the citizens. Agreeing with Cllr. Dollard’s point about the role of the County Development Board, Cllr. Leonard felt that Enterprise Ireland could also play a part, combined with the local authorities, vecs, and the transport policy grouping. Meanwhile, Cllr. Frankie Keena, (FF), made the point that one of CEDRA’s meetings should be held in Westmeath, as the whole Midland Region was a most important destination which needed to be driven forward.

ANALYSIS OF EDUCATIONAL NEEDS OF RURAL AREAS? Emphasising the point that more young people are now looking at a future in agriculture or agri-based industries, Cllr. John Dolan, (FG), pointed out that the agricultural colleges were never as busy. Welcoming that development, the Councillor said one of his young sons is considering his third level education in agricultural college. The Councillor said he (himself)

had attended a meeting in Ballyhaise College in Cavan recently and he was so impressed by the facilities offered there. Labour Councillor Peter Keaney backed Cllr. Dolan’s remarks and described how many agricultural colleges have now “reinvented themselves.” However, he also felt there was an urgent need for an analysis of the educational needs of rural areas to be carried out. However, Cllr. Tom Allen, (FF), was adamant that nothing positive could be achieved to progress any part of Ireland until the banks and financial institutions starting back to basic lending facilities for people. From what he was hearing on the ground and in his travels across Ireland, the access to such banking facilities was still proving a major problem for businesses and employers, he continued, adding it was alright talking about progressing rural Ireland and he totally welcomed anything positive in that regard; but he felt pressure would have to be put on the lending institutions to open their doors to worthwhile and viable projects. “From what I am hearing all over the country lack of

John Dolan. access to finance still remains a problem to his day,” said Cllr. Allen, who is involved in the entertainment business as the country singer and artist TR Dallas. “Rural Ireland isn’t dead,” said Cllr. Kevin Boxer Moran, (Independent), who said that he had listened intently to the debate in The Chamber. “The way my esteemed colleagues here are talking one would think rural Ireland is dead. It’s not dead, and rural Ireland is fighting back,” Cllr. Boxer remarked, before making a plea for tax breaks for such areas. “At the moment, as we all know, there are a lot of government owned buildings lying idle all across the place, while entrepreneurs and those who have enterprise ideas cannot afford to pay

the high rents sought for other premises. I believe this is something that should be looked at immediately,” he continued, adding there was the possibility that such moves would assist with the creation of employment opportunities. Meanwhile, Westmeath County Manager, Mr. Danny McLoughlin, in acknowledging it was a very difficult time for families to live off farming. Farm families, he said, now have to make choices, the Manager said. In relation to assisting entrepreneurs, the Manager also felt that Westmeath County Council had played a positive role and had a good record as he spoke of how they had spent £1.5million on incubator units, and in its support for rural tourism.


Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

Warmer weather A TABOO SUBJECT WITHIN brings hopes of THE FARMING INDUSTRY grass growth The warmer weather predicted from last weekend was welcomed by all farmers across the midlands, bringing the prospect of spring grass growth starting at last for many farmers. The message from the weather people is encouraging after a difficult and costly farming winter. But before farmers push ahead with spreading fertiliser and sowing crops, they are asked to re-assess fodder supplies for livestock and to make any surplus available to neighbours who are short. Farmers are looking forward to temperatures rising. Higher temperatures promise resumption of grass growth, after the coldest March on record, except in the south and south-west where it was only the coldest March since 1962. A measure of the cost to farmers of the late spring came from Bank of Ireland Business Banking, confirming this week that overdraft balances among its farmer customers are about 15% highter in March compared to last year, due to extra feed needs, with more than 1,000 lending applications from farmers in the past month. The bank said the overdraft increase was in line with their expectations of the lasting effect of last summer’s difficult weather. Department of Agriculture figures show a 19% increase in cattle deaths in January and February. Entering March, milk deliveries for the year were 3.76% under quota. There is also delayed sowing of crops, which is likely to significantly reduce tillage farm output. Beef prices are buoyant, and dairy commodity prices are rising. But without the expected rise in average farm income for 2013, which these trends will bring, many farmers could be facing financial disaster. That’s the proof the Irish farmers cannot bank on predictable weather. Even the greenfield dairy farm created in Co. Kilkenny with the help of the Department of Agriculture, Glanbia, FBD Trust, the Irish Farmers Journal, and AIB has been buying bales of silage and hay for the milking cows. The run of very poor weather over the past year shows that it is a gamble to farm without a big reserve of winter feed for livestock. Irish farmers can depend more on reliable weather than New Zealanders, now enduring a serious drought; and Americans, still struggling with the effects of last year’s drought. Even our near neighbours suffer greater weather shocks. Temperatures fell to minus 12.5C in the Scottish Highlands last Sunday, and the Scottish government will spend £500,000 to help livestock producers dispose of animals lost in the severe weather. Farmers in Wales

and Northern Ireland also suffered major weatherrelated losses. At the other side of the world, the Climate Commission predicts “a significant increase” in droughts across important Australian agricultural areas which are major suppliers of food to Asian markets and the world’s second-largest exporter of wheat and third-largest shipper of raw sugar and beef. Food exporter countries with more temperate climates, like Ireland, must help to fill the gap when the big powers suffer weather set-backs. But farmers can’t take chances here either, especially with livestock. Every livestock farm should build up and hold a buffer store of winter feed. The way the weather is going, it would be no surprise if farmers end up feeding silage in May or June.

Winter feed Unfavourable weather conditions across 2012 led to varied costs rising throughout the country. Dr Tom Kelly, Director of Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc, advised farmers in this situation to take action and talk to their farm adviser and bank manager to work out a plan. He said: “In many cases, the farm is experiencing short term cash flow problems. This will recover when conditions improve as the underlying farm business is essentially sound.” Last year saw the warmest March on record for most of Ireland, with no frosts and daytime temperatures reaching above 10C on at least 25 days in the month. This year was a total contrast - the coldest in decades. Grain market Unusually cold temperatures across much of Europe have delayed spring sowings and winter crop development. With a late-growing season comes a much shorter growing season. And farmers have already started sowing in the hopes that the sun will come shining through. This means that they will be playing catch-up all year, with the question being, “will they catch up?”

Milk Quota Thankfully, due to the cooperative nature of milk farming, there is not much to worry about if you fall under quota, because the other farms in your co-op are there to balance it out. The problem comes with falling in over quota which could result in a costly fine. A fine that may even be more expensive than the milk that you supply. So by coming in over quota, you run the risk of paying the super-levy, which actually cancels out the money gained from your milk farming throughout the year. It is important to stay in touch with the other members of your co-op to ensure that everybody is on the right

track and stays beneath the quota. Many farmers took a risk this year, as they believed that Irish dairy farmers would not come above quota any time before 2015. This worked out well, as a lot of dairy farmers fell dramatically below quote. However, the balancing act can be difficult to maintain. Deputy Simon Coveney said, “We cannot allow a situation to develop where there will be a dramatic increase in milk production and a collapse in its price because we do not have the markets for it. That would be a disaster. This problem needs to be dealt with as part of a soft landing solution in terms of ending the quota system.” Austerity Due to the measures that the Irish government has put into play, banks and merchants will most likely not be extending further credit to farmers that may be falling behind on payments. It does no harm to ask, but it looks like strings are being pulled tighter and tighter in order to quickly find a way out of the crushing national debt. Again, help can be obtained from your local Teagasc, IFA, and MACRA offices; not in money perhaps, but in better planning and organisation for the future of your farm.

One in five people in Ireland will suffer from depression in their lives. The farming community is not immune to this. Throughout the industry’s ten thousand years plus, there is a certain taboo associated with depression in a job of physical labour. Farmers are finding it difficult to manage financially and to cope with increasingly vulnerable farming systems and the escalating pace of change and regulation. Teagasc have recently published findings regarding mental health in rural Ireland. The objective of their study was to explore male suicidal behaviour in a rural region of Ireland. There is much evidence to suggest that levels of satisfaction and quality of life remain high in the countryside generally. However, it is difficult for anyone to pinpoint the exact moment that depression sets in, and there is usually not just one cause. Stress since 2008, austerity measures have increasingly put pressure on farmers to be as quick and efficient with their workload as possible. There are farmers in Ireland that make far less than the minimum household wage; as low as €8,000 a year. Supermarkets have been dominating the produce market for some time, and since the recession this has only gotten worse for the farming community. By pro-

viding food and products that are cheaper, many shoppers find it more convenient to get everything in the one go without prior knowledge of where their food is coming from, and more importantly, what it went through getting here. With supermarkets pricing their food so low, farmers are left with no choice but to compete with each other to gain footholds in the market, thus reducing their income dramatically. Government also plays a part in this by fiercely regulating how a farmer sells his or her products, which leads to less independence. What was once the most independent business in the world has now had control taken from it. This lack of control can ultimately lead to thoughts of despair and worthlessness. Financial pressure is put on the farmer from many different angles. The slightest change to a number of different factors can have huge ramifications on a farmer’s stress levels. Be it market fluctuation, livestock disease, or bad weather leading to a poor harvest, uncertain returns, increasing input costs, huge debt and pressure from the banks; these are considerations that farmers have to take into account every day. Many farmers do not want to admit that there are any difficulties with the farm and view them as a sign of

weakness or failure. There are some farmers who are ready to pack their bags and leave the farm as it is. What can be done? It is clinically proven that talking to someone, to anyone, gives an immense relief to feelings of depression. There are many ways that depression can be treated, and not just with medication. There is support for the farming community with a clear objective of good mental health and well-being. The

major problem is an unwillingness to communicate. Depression is a flaw in chemistry, not character. It is very important to get out and start talking to people. It doesn’t matter who it is. Below are a list of groups dedicated to helping with depression and other mental health issues.

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Warming up IFA have said that in the past week or so, Ireland has gained a brief respite from adverse ground conditions which should allow some of the backlog of work on farms to be cleared and fertiliser spread for the prospect of grass growth next week with higher temperatures expected. John Bryan, IFA President, said, “The month of March was one of the coldest on record and farmers now need to push ahead with the spreading of fertiliser and the sowing of crops. The warmer weather that is predicted from next week-end on should finally see the start of grass growth, after a difficult and costly winter for farm families.” He also reminded co-ops, feed mills, and banks of their obligation to support their farmer customers and do everything to ensure adequate feed and cash flow is provided. “Commodity prices in dairy, beef, and lamb look set to remain strong for the year and farmers will use the improvement in their cash flow situation to clear their accounts. IFA also said, “The clear advice is to get some stock out as soon as ground conditions allow, and supplement them with concentrates at grass.” There is assistance in advice from the IFA and Teagasc to farmers who need help, and nobody should be afraid to seek out support.

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Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

Many changes in farming over the years BY BILLY BROWNE

Has farming changed much over the years or is it more or less the same as it was in the 70s, 80s and 90s? I was involved in the Farming business in those years and certainly I see the changes that have taken place looking at it now. In most counties farmers had a very big choice of agricultural merchants to deal

with. Those merchants provided a great service to the farmer and of course the farmer could match up the rates those merchants were charging and usually get very keen prices. Having said that, the farmer usually built up a relationship with the merchant and within reason would stay with the same firm year in year out. On a

lighter note it would on occasion prove to be a social occasion for the farmer to visit his merchant as many a football team, selector, referee, etc would be the subject of an indepth examination on a Monday following a local club game, or county game. It was obvious that the farmer or his friend in the co-op or agri business firm would have

done a far better job on the particular game in question. The number of outlets have now decreased dramatically and the smaller outlets have mostly been taken over by the large companies. Farmers always did a good job with their land, let it be dairying, cattle or tillage. Nowadays it has gone more scientific. The small farms have disappeared to a large degree, and larger holdings are the order of the day. I don't think its unfair to say that farming is

run now like any business. Administration and documentation play a big part nowadays. In those earlier years loyalty played a big part with the farming community as I’m sure it does today. From personal experience dealing with farmers in counties Kildare, Wicklow, Dublin, Offaly, Westmeath, farmers trusted his merchant and visa versa and it was an honourable business to be involved in. As the years moved on small changes appeared,

small buying groups became large buying groups. They were mostly made up of the bigger dairying and beef farmers. They ran their group very professionally and were made up of very honest, hard working people. As I look out at the farming scene now I see that after going through tough times for about sixteen years, farming has come back in a big way and its great to see it prospering. • A farmer from Lurgan won the lotto some years

ago and of course all his neighbours were curious to know what he was going to do with the money. He was very quick to point out that he was going to continue farming till it was all gone! Those days are gone and in a country struggling on most fronts at the moment farming is thriving, but of course it has its problems, and farmers are making money but, I’m sure, still doing the lotto!

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Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

Mullingar based Fintan Conway B.Agr.Sc.. B.Sc. Bus.IT writes for Topic Newspapers about the prospects for this year’s grain market. Fintan is Executive Secretary of the Irish Grain Committee.

Increased price volatility in Grain Market as investors focus switches to 2013/14 crop

SPRING LAMB AND HOGGET PRICES HAVE EASED The post-Easter trade can be a testing time for lamb producers trying to maintain returns, and 2013 is no exception, with an easing in the overall market tone at factories this week. Both spring lamb and hogget prices have eased at factories in the trading lull after Easter, with the pre-Easter prices no longer attainable.

Quoted prices for new season lambs have settled back at 620 cent/kg plus the bonus for quality. Reports from around the country indicate that there is less interest from the processors this week in the spring lambs. The hoggets are being quoted at 520 cent/kg, plus quality bonus, with a little bit of

Distribution of agriculture in Ireland The Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine currently reports that the agri-food sector in Ireland contributes a value of €24 billion to the national economy, generates 6.3% of gross value added, almost 10% of Ireland’s exports and provides 7.7% of national employment. If inputs, processing and marketing is included, the agri-food sector accounts for almost 10% of employment. The agri-food sector is one of Ireland’s most important indigenous manufacturing sectors, accounting for employment

of around 150,000 people. It includes approximately 600 food and drinks firms throughout the country that export 85% of our food and seafood to more than 160 countries worldwide. Research has shown that Ireland’s investment in agriculture produces a far bigger return than investment in other sectors. That is because agriculture sources 71% of raw materials and services from Irish suppliers, compared to 44% for all manufacturing companies. Data from the Central Statistics Office indicates that the agri-food

430 cent/kg available as an all-in price. Meanwhile, the trade across the UK firmed last week, reflecting strong demand for relatively tight supplies. By last weekend, hoggets were making the equivalent of around 524 cent/kg, while new season lamb was making up to 675 cent/kg. sector (including agriculture, food, drinks, and tobacco) accounts for around 7% of GDP with primary agriculture accounting for around 2.5% of GDP. Agri-Food Exports Agri-food exports have an almost 10% share of total exports. However, when the low import content of agriculture and the low repatriation of profits are taken into account, the agri-food sector still accounts for around 25% of net foreign earnings. Irish food and drink exports grew last year by 12% giving a 25% increase in two years and were valued at a record €8.9 billion. The governement’s target is to grow this figure to €12 billion by 2020, which means continuous growth between now and then.

IRISH BEEF SELLING WELL IN BRITAIN Expenditure on beef was 2% higher in the four weeks ending 17 February, compared to the same period last year, in the UK, which takes up to half of Ireland’s beef. This reflected a 3% increase in the average retail beef price, and a 1% decline in volume sales seen as “a reasonable measured” consumer response to the unfolding horse-meat crisis, according to Northern Ireland’s Livestock and Meat Commission. Market data confirms that con-

sumers cut spending on more highly processed beef products. Fresh and frozen beef burger volumes were down 35.2%, chilled and frozen ready meals were also down. But some of this was due to removal of products by retailers. Otherwise, UK consumer demand for beef remained generally stable. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland last week published its second set of results of industry tests for horse meat in beef products, beef ingredients

and other ingredients. A total of 1,228 tests were carried out, of which 1,225 samples were found to be negative, and three samples, representing two products, were positive for horse meat. These positive results had been published previously and products withdrawn from the market. Meat ingredients and final beef products from a range of suppliers, caterers, processors, manufacturers and retailers were tested.

NITRATES DEROGATION APPLICATIONS The deadline for Nitrates derogation applications was March 31st. The new on-line system will enable farmers to apply till April 14th. It is very important that the applications are

done especially this year, as grass growth is very slow and temporary grazing may be very difficult to get. A farm must have 80% under grass and have grazing livestock to be eligible

for derogation. Derogation allows 250kg/ha of Nitrogen level as against 170kg/ha normally, this shows how vital the derogation is.

World grain prices have become extremely volatile over the last fortnight as investor attention turns to 2013 harvest prospects. US grain and soybean prices fell significantly last Thursday week, 28 March, after the release of the USDA’s March quarterly stock report and the annual Prospective Plantings report. That Thursday and Monday 1 April saw very heavy selling of US maize corn contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) exchange, totalling over 1.25 million. Thursday’s volume at just over 655,000 was the second largest on record. This had a knock on impact on European prices setting a negative tone for price direction for the coming weeks and possibly months. In the report, US maize stocks, at 137mt, were significantly higher than trade expectations as cumulative export sales dropped 5.5 percentage points compared to the 5 year average. This coupled with the prospect of the largest sown maize area since 1936, at 97.2m acres (trade estimates 97.4m acres), saw both old and new crop prices fall by $14/t to $15/t. On the wheat front US quarterly stocks were up by 3% compared to last season, at 33.5mt, in line with market expectations. New crop sowings were forecast to increase marginally by 1%. However, prices were dragged lower by falling maize prices. Immediately following the release of the

Fintan Conway. reports new and old crop wheat prices on the Chicago Board of Trade Exchange (CBOT) fell by $18/t and $16/t respectively. Paris Matif milling wheat futures followed suit falling by €8/t for both old crop and new crop on the back of this news. London Liffe wheat futures fell by st£4.75 for old crop and st£3.50/t for new crop. US soybean stocks are seen down by 27mt on last season however, quarterly stock drawdown for this quarter was seen as 3% higher and this in conjunction with the fall in maize prices pressured both old and new crop prices lower. CBOT May futures were down by $17.91/t and November futures by $7.50/t. New crop sowings are estimated at 77.1m acres down marginally on last season (-72,000 acres).

Market reaction overdone The market reaction was seen as overdone given the lingering drought and severe soil moisture

Farmers respond to Teagasc call Hundreds of farmers with excess fodder have responded to a Teagasc call to help those struggling due to a shortage of winter feed. Teagasc advisers across the country are compiling a database of farmers with fodder for sale and then matching them with livestock owners who are desperately seeking hay, silage and straw. The initiative has already attracted hundreds of farmers who are both buying and selling forage.

A spokesman for Dan O’Connor Feeds said feed demand was runnibg 2030pc above normal and their mill was working 24/7 to meet farmers’ requirements. Brian Doocey said production is at peak capacity but they were meeting the demand. Bernard Doorley of Teagasc in Offaly advised farmers to get silage analysed for quality before agreeing a price.

deficits across Central and Southern US plains. This was borne out as US wheat prices rebounded off 1 April’s nine month lows on the back of increasing concerns about the state of the US hard red winter wheat crop as it breaks dormancy following on from the prolonged drought. No different than in Europe weather so far this spring across the US Midwest has been unusually cold delaying sowings and winter crop development.

EU sowing & production estimates Closer to home unusually cold temperatures across much of Europe have delayed spring sowings and winter crop development. In the UK, March 2013 was reported as one of the coldest in recent times, while in Germany it was possibly the coldest on record. Irish and UK spring cereal plantings were at 15% at the end of March compared to 50% in a normal year. EU-27 cereals estimates and 2013/14 marketing year forecast increased production for soft wheat of 4.6mt (3.7%), 160,000t (0.2%) for maize and 91,000t (1.2%) for oats but a decrease of 160,000t (-0.3%) for barley. Total EU-27 grain production is forecast at 278.5mt up 5.5mt from 273mt in 2012.

Irish sowing estimates Following on from a very difficult growing season in 2012 overall Irish cereal sowings are expected to fall by 13,000ha to 15,000ha due to the significant drop in winter wheat sowings, tight seed availability and what has turned out to be a very late spring. The big

reduction in winter wheat sowings will see a significant swing to barley. Fortunately the re-opening of malt exports should take some pressure off the feed barley market this back end. Despite earlier talks of a significant increase in EU malting barley supplies many commentators expect volumes to be tight on the back of a later than normal spring sowing campaign.

Price prospects Old crop dried Irish wheat continues to trade around the €250/t price mark with barley close to import parity at €235/t as native stocks dwindle. Maize is currently discounting wheat by €2/t, trading at €248/t. New crop dried wheat prices have slipped by €5/t to €6/t on late March levels with wheat for 2013 harvest collection at €210/t to €212/t and barley from €190/t to €195/t. Green wheat and barley prices off the combine for harvest delivery are being quoted from €150/t to €155/t for barley and from €170/t to €175/t for wheat. New crop maize for October collection is being quoted at €205/t, limiting any upside potential particularly for barley in the short term. Prices are expected to remain volatile as weather and its impact on crop development over the coming weeks and months will have a major bearing on price direction. Buyer sentiment is currently negative and they anticipate further price falls. However, any major weather event across the northern hemisphere between now and harvest could see prices spike as happened in 2007 and 2012.

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Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

Fox Bros Engineering Ltd. Ballycanew, Gorey, Co. Wexford. Phone: 053 9421677 Fax: 053 9421733 e-mail: Agricultural and Structural Engineers MANUFACTURERS OF HIGH QUALITY TRANSPORT BOXES ● CATTLE FEEDERS SHEEP ● TROUGHS● HORSE FEEDERS CATTLE TROUGHS ● SHEEP FEEDERS STANDARD AND ROLL OVER YARD SCRAPERS GATES (Any height length or specification made to order) Fabricators and Erectors of Farm & Industrial Buildings Best wishes to Moate Agri Supplies. ●

Best wishes to Moate Agri Supplies On the launch of the new Agri Store at Dublin Rd., Moate Stockist of Greenvale Animal Feeds

Opening of new Moate Agri Supplies store on the Dublin Road Moate Agri Supplies store recently opened at Marshbrook, Dublin Road, Moate (opposite The Well) providing all your agri supply needs in the greater Moate and surrounding areas. With its recently renovated farm shop and farm store you can get a complete range of animal feedstuffs, full range of fertilizers, grass and cereal seeds, full animal health range and all your light hardware needs and agrichemical products. Also in stock is a wide range of pet and horse feed. Store manager Niall Daly has worked in Tullamore Agri since 2001 and has over 10 years experience in servicing the needs of farmers and in giving advice on all cur-

rent and new product lines available in Moate Agri stores. Working with Niall is Padraig Keyes who also has firsthand knowledge of all products on site. Moate Agri Supplies stock the full range of Irelands best known brands including national brand names (Gouldings, Grasslands, Lakeland Dairies, Liffey Mills, Paul & Vincent). With flexible opening hours – Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.30pm and due to public demand, Saturday opening from 9.00am to 5.00pm, the customer is greatly facilitated. Niall can be contacted on landline 09064-81415 or on mobile (087) 9694605 Why not see for yourself and visit Niall and his staff at Moate Agri store.

Niall Daly and Padraig Keyes at Moate Agri Supplies.

Best wishes to Moate Agri Supplies on the launch of the new Agri Store at Dublin Rd., Moate

"Caring for your soils for over 150 years" Best wishes to Moate Agri Supplies on the launch of the new Agri Store at Dublin Rd., Moate

Inside Moate Agri Supplies.

Best wishes to Moate Agri

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Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

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Best wishes to Moate Agri on the launch of their new Store

2012 is the Reference Year For dairy farmers, hygiene under the CAP Proposals is a major issue, and cross compliance is a key

2012 is the Reference Year under the CAP Proposals and this is an important development. A derogation clause that was inserted at the negotiations at the Council of Ministers stage also greatly alleviated any concerns about a forward reference year. This means that the farmer can declare in either 2012, 2013 or 2014. It has been stated in the Dail that serious considera-

tion will be given to taking up 2012 as the reference year. If that is done, it means that the number of hectares submitted in 2012 would be the maximum number of entitlements you could receive in the new system. This would seem to mean that you can have entitlements up to that number of hectares in the subsequent years but not over it. It has also emerged that

the amount of money to be divided across the new entitlements in 2015 is now linked to the amount of SFP he gets paid in 2013. However, there are ongoing pressures on the amounts of money available for such grant schemes, due to the national economic situation, the greening scheme which he or she will have to apply for separately, and so on.

‘Never before witnessed such a difficult year for the farming community’ Best wishes to Moate Agri










An IFA Regional Development Officer, Mr. Adrian Leddy, has pointed out that it is very important that farmers work together in the current CAP negotiations given the pressures everyone is under in the current economy. Mr Leddy admitted he had never before witnessed such a difficult year for the farming community. He was speaking at the AGM of Roscommon IFA last week He told the attendance that unity was crucial as he had never seen such difficulties on farms throughout the country, which had meant that the numbers from the region that had attended the national protest were very big, due to the difficulties that farmers were facing. But the only hope for farmers was if they were united, in his opinion. He praised IFA officers throughout the country for the work they do and said the negotiations would determine the livelihoods that farmers had over the next seven years, a point that has strongly been made by the IFA. Meanwhile Roscommon IFA chairman John O’Beirne warned that the current fodder crisis is get-

ting more serious. Mr O’Beirne said IFA officials had met with former European Agricultural Commissioner, Ray McSharry, to discuss the CAP proposals. He also criti-

cised local meat factories saying they had lobbied factories in Roscommon not to pull down the price of cattle between August and December but they did and they paid the price for it.

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Food safety and protecting the food chain from any possible contamination is one of the many objectives of cross-compliance rules. For dairy farmers, this area of cross-compliance includes ensuring that milking animals are in a good state of health and are milked hygienically. Milk from animals undergoing treatment must not be sent to the co-op. Withdrawal periods for different treatments must be fully observed. A whiteboard or red tape can be used to identify animals undergoing treatments. The bulk tank must cool milk to 8°C if collected daily, or 6°C if collected every second day. A

small amount of disinfectant and cleansing materials can be kept in the dairy for daily use as long as there is no risk of crosscontamination of the milk. Cross-compliance checklist Can you identify animals that are undergoing treatment? Have you a system for separating the milk from animals undergoing treatment? Are all fittings and equipment in your dairy in good condition, fit for purpose and kept clean? Are all surfaces that come into contact with milk kept clean and free of toxic materials? Has the dairy adequate hand-washing facilities?

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Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

Fencing important in the development of solid farm structures Fencing is an extremely important part of the agriculture sector in Ireland. Fences are essential to keep animals in or out of certain areas. They can be made from various materials depending on a range of factors such as the location of the fence and what animals need to be confined. In Ireland, it is the responsibility of the animal’s owner to ensure that adequate fencing is put up to confine animals. Fencing traditions can be traced back almost to the time of cavemen and tips and advice on the subject have been shared in the many years since. The basic principles of fencing havn’t changed greatly over time but there are a few essential factors to take into account when building a fence in Ireland today. The first thing to consider is the layout of the farm. When dividing up ground it may be necessary to get assistance from an agricultural advisor or someone with a lot of experience in the area. A good layout will ensure that you have very direct and quick access to stock for the farmyard and that you do not have wasted fencing or roadways where it is not needed. It is also important to keep paddocks square or rectangular in shape, where possi-

ble. This will make jobs such as mowing much less time consuming. You will also get better value from fertiliser spreading as there will be less overlapping. There are also a variety of factors to consider when making new roadways for access. They should be wide enough for livestock and machinery to be moved easily. Mowers can be 10 feet wide and slurry tanks are also quite large so it is essential that roadways and gaps into paddocks are wide enough to allow this kind of machinery to be moved at ease. Roadways should be between 10-12 feet wide but should not be any larger. Roadways that are too wide will result in a large amount of fencing material being wasted. After the layout has been decided you should examine what type of materials to use and what design the fence should have to ensure you get the longest possible life out of a fence. “Overall we find that good, life long materials don’t cost twice as much- but will last three times longer,” says Robert Birney, FRS Fencing. “We recommend long life creosote treated posts matched with hi-tensile wire, good, heavy insulation and an adequately sized electric fencer unit with the correct number of earth

rods. Creosoted posts are guaranteed for 15 years but we have posts in place for over 20 years and they are still going strong,” explained Mr Birney who is fencing manager at the Tipperary based company. You should always choose high-tensile fencing as it is capable of being strained

much tighter than steel. It is also easier to erect and is less likely to sag after being impacted by animals. It is more cost effective as it requires fewer posts. When choosing an electric fence unit, you must consider the length of fence that requires power. Most fence units will emit

between 5,000- 7,000 volts but the distance this voltage will travel varies. ‘A large fence unit can be expensive. But by keeping the fence line clear of vegetation, using good insulation and putting in a proper earthing system, you will ensure good power in your fence line at all times and

can keep down the size and cost of the fence unit you require,” explained Mr Birney. Earthing systems are very often overlooked but are an essential element when using electric fencing. The most important thing to do is to use galvanised earth bars. They are cheap but

will not rust easily which could prevent them from carrying current. All of the above factors should be carefully considered. This will ensure the most efficient fencing system possible and will guarantee that the fencing will last as long as possible.


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Strong beef prices to continue says IFA THE IFA said strong beef prices are set to continue as the industry is driven by tight supplies and a huge demand in the market. The IFA National Livestock Committee Chairman Henry Burns said that higher prices are required as farmers continue to struggle to cover exceptionally high feed costs this spring. Mr Burns stated that beef consumption figures are very positive for the UK and Irish domestic markets. The latest EU beef forecast has also predicted lower beef production in major countries such as France and Italy, which should ensure positive beef trading here.

He said that the base price for steers has moved up to €4.35 and €4.50 for heifers while bulls are making €4.35/kg. Flat prices of €4.70/kg have been paid for Angus and Hereford heifers, which are in very strong demand. Mr Burns also believes that the increased In-spec payment bonus at beef factories under the Quality Payment System is a positive move and reflects market change. He stated that better rewards for In-spec stock will ensure farmers respond to quality assurance and other In-spec issues. However, the livestock chairman believes that factories need to go even fur-

ther by rewarding all stock from quality assured farms and that they should show flexibility to accommodate the sale of finished stock through the livestock marts. Speaking about live exports, Mr Burns said that there is even more positive news as another major exporter is buying Continental and Friesian cross bulls for another boat to sail to Libya in mid-April. Weights are in the range of 300kg to 430kg. “This is positive following on the successful shipment of 2,850 cattle to Libya in February,” said Mr Burns.


Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

Abbey Gate Craft Abbey Gate Craft is a company steeped in tradition. Our origins can be traced back almost four generations to when the great grand father of our current company owner had "Floods Forge" at the same address as that of the current company. Staying in the same line of work as that of our fore fathers Abbey Gate Crafts manufacture and install gates and railings

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Farming Briefs 10pc in February 2013 up of up to 25% on come shining through. Young Farm- top compared to February their entitlements value This means that they will ers Scheme for the first five years.The 2012.according to the be playing catch-up all most recent CSO milk top up will be paid per year, with the question encourages supply figures. hectare. The new scheme being, “will they catch up?” people into is2015.being introduced in Grain Winter agriculture Falling short market This is a new scheme of milk quota Unusually cold tempera- feed where young people are encouraged into agriculture. it is funded by taking 2% of the countrys direct payments. A young farmer must be setting up for the first time, have good skills and be under 40 yrs old. They will get a

Ireland is set to fall short of its national milk quota by around 150m litres after poor weather conditions throughout the 2012/2013 took its toll on production. Domestic milk intake fell by almost

tures across much of Europe have delayed spring sowings and winter crop development. With a late-growing season comes a much shorter growing season. And farmers have already started sowing in the hopes that the sun will

Unfavourable weather conditions across 2012 led to varied costs rising throughout the country. Dr Tom Kelly, Director of Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc, advised farmers in this situation to take action and talk to their

farm adviser and bank manager to work out a plan. He said: “In many cases, the farm is experiencing short term cash flow problems. This will recover when conditions improve as the underlying farm business is essentially sound.” Last year saw the warmest March on record for most of Ireland, with no frosts and daytime temperatures reaching above 10C on at least 25 days in the month. This year was a total contrast - the coldest in decades

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Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

ICMSA welcomes nitrates derogation penalty review The Chairman of the ICMSA’s Farm Services and Environment Committee, Mr. Patrick Rohan, has welcomed the announcement by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that they have revised the Nitrates penalty applied to those farmers with an approved derogation who exceed the stocking limits set down in their derogation of 250Kgs N/Ha/yr but are less than or equal to 300 Kgs N/Ha/yr. Mr. Rohan stated that ICMSA had sought this review of penalties applied to derogation farmers and he noted that the association is very satisfied with confirmation by the Department of a 10% reduction in the penalty on payments to farmers who exceed the

stocking limits set down in their derogation of 250Kgs N/Ha/yr but are less than or equal to 300 Kgs N/Ha/yr. He stated that farmers that were slightly in breach of the regulations were previously subjected to a 15% penalty on their scheme payments but that this will now be reduced to 5% for 2011 onwards. However, the Farm Services Chairman stated that it is important to note that all other categories of penalties remain the same as does the application of repetition penalties in respect of repeated breaches. Mr. Rohan concluded by stating that for herds planning expansion it is essential that farmers check their position and make arrangements to avoid penalties. This may

Patrick Rohan, Chairman of ICMSA Farm Services Committee. involve applying for a derogation which can still be applied for on-line up to 14 April 2013 or some alternative arrangement such as exporting slurry.

Westmeath IFA make a presentation to outgoing County Chairman, Joe Maxwell, for his outstanding contribution and dedication in his role as chairman over the last 4 years. Pictured are l-r: Joe Maxwell, JJ Farrell and Joe Henson.

Pictured is IFA President John Bryan with Westmeath IFA Co Executive Officers and Commodity Chairpersons at the 2013 AGM held in the Bloomfield Hotel recently, l-r back row: John Hughes, James Fox, George Case, JJ Farrell, Paddy Donnelly, Adrian Elliot, Eunan Bannon, Mark Maxwell, Front row: Mairead Fallon, Gordon Johnson – Newly elected Co Chairman, John Harte, IFA President John Bryan, Kenneth Bray and Joe Henson.

Winter feed situation impacting on farm cash flow Fundraising Tractor Run and BBQ: Carol Moore Killucan Vintage Club presents Fr. Frank Monks from St. Camillus Nursing centre with a cheque of €1000 for the patients comfort fund. This fund providing extra care and comfort of the residents at the nursing centre. This is a very peaceful location where the members of the Order of St. Camillus (Camillians), along with a dedicated staff, are caring for the residents at the nursing centre. Killucan Vintage Club are delighted to support the St Camillus Comfort fund and would like to thank the local community who supported the vintage club with their fundraising tractor run and BBQ in August 2012.

Unfavourable weather conditions, both in summer 2012 and spring 2013, has led to increased costs on many farms. Poor quality forages and now a shortage of grass and forage has led to increased feed bills. Poorer than usual animal performance, has impacted on farm receipts. This has already had implications for cash flow on some farms, and will continue to impact on cash flow through the remainder of 2013. Dr Tom Kelly, Director of Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc advised farmers in this situation to take action and talk to their farm adviser and bank manager to work out a plan. He said: ”In many

cases, the farm is experiencing short term cash flow problems. This will recover when conditions improve as the underlying farm business is essentially sound. Such farmers need short term access to additional cash to tide the business over and the farmer’s track record would support a high level of confidence in paying off this short-term debt when conditions improve.” Farmers should act now and involve their advisers at an early stage. Delay in taking action will only magnify the problems. You can be certain that you are not the only farmer in that situation, but you can also be assured that help is

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available. The implication of the current cash flow situation is likely to extend throughout 2013. In many cases it may not be possible to resolve current difficulties in 2013 and a planned approach extending into 2014 may be the most prudent way of resolving problems. Teagasc are encouraging farmers experiencing cash flow difficulties to take the following steps: Act early, even the best farm plans and schedules are in need of adjustments. Delay will only magnify the problem. It will not solve it. Know your debt, put together a list of all your debts; who you owe, how much you owe and the interest rate and term. Consult and draw up a cash flow forecast for remainder of 2013 with your Teagasc Adviser or Agricultural Consultant. They have the expertise and experience to help you present tailor-made proposals to your bank and/ or your merchant/ farm input supplier. Arrange a meeting with your Bank Manager. Take time to prepare the appropriate information for this meeting including (1) a recent set of farm

accounts/ Profit Monitor; (2) a statement quantifying the impact of 2012 weather related issues on your farm business; and (3) a cash flow forecast for the remainder of 2013. For those with short term cash flow problems, an extension to an existing overdraft facility or a new overdraft facility may be all that is required. Be realistic. Banks will respond to realistic budgets and up-todate cash flow projections, supported by the farmers own records and accounts. Arrange a meeting with your main input suppliers and those to whom you owe money. Explain your situation and offer a repayment schedule to them which you can realistically meet. In more severely affected farms, the farm household income will be insufficient for living expenses, check out your entitlement to income supplements like Farm Assist and Carers Allowance. Remember, help is available. Contact your Teagasc Adviser, Agricultural Consultant, Bank Manager, farm organisation representative, family or friends or other organisations.


Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

Moate based organisation points to effect of last budget on rural life People living in rural areas have been hit hard by the cuts in the last budget. Changes in the farm assist means test will impact greatly on many from farming backgrounds.

A view of some of the interesting and varied products at the Ballybeg Farm Shop.

Local success at Ballybeg Farm Shop For the past twelve years, Val Brennan and his wife, Alison have been Bord Bia Quality Assured farmers at Derrynagarra, Collinstown. Val had an idea that selling his own products directly to the customer was a fine way of guaranteeing quality service to customers. When he spoke with the Westmeath Community Development programme, they agreed and awarded Val funding for his exciting new enterprise. Based off the Castlepollard Rd, just nine miles from Mullingar, Ballybeg farm is easily accessible for all your produce needs. By running their own suckler cows and raising their ani-

mals from calf to beef, Val and Alison guarantee the best quality of beef. “We employ one full-time butcher and two part-time staff, who will soon undergo a level 6 HACCP training.” HACCP training ensures food safety and management training with the Westmeath County Enterprise Board, which promotes services beyond expectations at Ballybeg Farm Shop, offering a wide variety of quality beef, all of which comes from Val and Alison’s own herds: pork, chicken, lamb, bacon, and many other products that are perfect accompaniments to the food bought at Ballybeg Farm. Ballybeg is

A meat counter at Ballybeg.

A view of the outside of the premises.

open six days a week, from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 6pm. “Ballybeg Farm produces its own meat, and after slaughter we hang it for 24 days to make sure it is perfectly mature and ready for the customer,” says Val Brennan. “Even the food the animals eat is grown right here at Ballybeg. We want our customers to have local produce at affordable prices, and we commit ourselves to sourcing these products from local suppliers. It’s not easy in these economic times, so we want to promote local business as much as possible.” Val and Alison cater for big or small occasions and all types of orders, and even provide a delivery service free for orders over €50. For more information on Ballybeg Farm, call 044937-2773, follow them on Facebook for details and offers.

The closure of one hundred Garda stations this year, most of which are located in rural areas, will be worrying to those living in isolated rural areas. 2013 will undoubtedly be a particularly challenging year for everyone, but what impacts will the budget have on rural citizens this year?

Irish Rural Link: Budget 2012- What does it mean for rural communities? Irish Rural Link is a national network that represents rural communities in Ireland, and it’s based in Moate. They represent the interests of community groups in marginalised rural areas by highlighting problems and advocating appropriate policies. The network was formed in 1991 and is a non-profit organisation. They represent almost 500 community groups and have a membership of 25,000. The network has highlighted the effect that the Budget 2012 is having on those living in rural areas. The overall effect of the budget from a rural perspective is viewed as pretty neutral. There was no increase in motor fuel, which always impacts heavily on rural areas. However, the increase on motor tax will increase the overall cost of owning a car, by an average of €50, depending on the tax band. Cars pre 2008 will be affected the most. The budget did little to ease the perception among many rural communities that services continue to be withdrawn by actions of government and the private sector. An example of this, although not part of the budget was the announcement on the same day by Minister Alan Shatter that one hundred Garda Stations will close in 2013. The full impact of this radical change in rural policing can be seen on our website. The sheer scale of the closures linked with the cuts in Garda overtime will cause huge anxiety among rural families, particularly people living alone in isolated rural areas. There was a welcome for some of the job stimulus programmes; however the possibility that this money will benefit the wider rural community is regarded as less likely. Rural areas are experiencing huge migration and emigration patterns of mainly young people. In the long term this is seriously detrimental to the sustainability of rural communities. Changes to the farm assist

payment will affect some 11,000 extremely low-income families. This scheme, which is means tested, is a life line to farm families. Means testing it makes it quite difficult to qualify and for those who do not qualify there are invariably other supports required to sustain the families concerned. It has really gone unnoticed; but has to be one of the meanest cuts in the budged. Clearly families will be worse off, given the wideranging increase in certain taxes. Cuts in a raft of public spending were announced and will most likely result in cuts to certain services, particularly in the caring and disability areas. While it should be noted that basic social welfare rates remain the same, other measures will penalise people in unexpected ways.

Results of Budget 2012 -Farm Assist. The assessment of means from selfemployment, including farming, is being raised from 70% to 85%. Estimates on how this will affect low income families range from €2,000 to €3000 per annum. There are 11,239 farmers on the scheme and around 70% of them are from western

counties. The deduction from income for children is halved to €127 per year for each of the first two dependent children and from €190.50 for each subsequent child. -Rural Social Scheme. There is a freeze on the numbers of people who can be on the Rural Social Scheme. There are 2,400 Rural Social Scheme places currently available and it is our analysis that there is a demand for at least double that number. -Changes to schemes such as the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme, the Disadvantaged Area Scheme, the Sheep Grassland Scheme, will reduce the income received by farmers. -Maternity benefit is to be taxed from July 1st at the same rate as if they were working. -Over 42,00 family carers will see their incomes cut by an additional four per cent, resulting in a cumulative cut of ten per cent over the past two years. -The weekly PRSI threshold for workers earning more than €352 or €18,304 annually is abolished. This affects low-income earners and will significantly increase poverty levels. -Fuel allowance is cut by

Seamus Boland of Irish Rural Link. €18.75. it is now €120 per year. -About 20,000 pensioners are to lose their full medical card and have it replaced with a GP only card. Losing their medical card will be those over the age of 70 with a weekly income of €600-€700 or €1200-€1400 for a couple. -Changes will see amounts in gas and electricity reduced from a top payment of €41 to €35 per month and from €22.60 to €9.50 for the telephone payment. -For electricity, the new rate will be applied as 150 units per month. -Third level student contribution, increased to €2,500, an increase of €250. The income threshold for the receipt of grant goes down from €41,110 to €38,875. -The existing annual €1700 payment to carers (which allows them to take short periods away from the stress of looking after loved ones) has been cut to €1,375.

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Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

ICMSA says MFF deal is going to present major difficulties – John Comer, President of ICMSA The EU Multi-Annual Framework Deal concluded by EU Heads of State on February 8 2013 is going to present major challenges for the farm sector and the rural economy in Ireland. While acknowledging the challenges facing the Irish Government in these negotiations, the reality for Irish farmers is that, between 2014 and 2020, the CAP budget available for farmers has been cut not only in real

terms but also in nominal terms. In addition, there is less funding available under both Pillar I and Pillar II and this presents a challenge to our Government. The priority from ICMSA’s perspective must be to protect the interests of active farmers but, there are question marks over the Government’s commitment to this. In relation to Pillar I, the key issues for farmers

are the cut in the budget for the Single Farm Payment and the availability of a budget for price supports in the event of a market downturn. Since 2005, farmers have seen their SFP cut by 13 per cent and a further reduction of 3.3 per cent represents a further blow. The Minister needs to clarify how he intends to address the cut in the overall SFP budget and address the question of whether all

farmers will face the same reduction or if it will be targeted. The method of convergence, greening and a definition of active farmers will be key issues. ICMSA has serious concerns in relation to the funding of price supports during periods of market downturns and this is an issue that cannot be ignored. The EU has consistently left farmers at the mercy of multinationals and the multiple retail-


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ers and this matter needs to be addressed. In this regard, the Minister must support the introduction of an EU Market Monitoring Agency to once and for all address the issue of margins along the food supply chain. In regard to Pillar II, the cut represents a reduction of €39m per annum in EU funding. Pillar II funds many critical and valuable schemes for farmers such

as REPS, AEOS, Disadvantaged Areas and On-Farm Investment grants; and the Minister should spell out his priorities under Pillar II and he must ensure that adequate national funding is available for the essential Agri-environment, Disadvantaged Areas and OnFarm Investment grants in the new programme. Under AEOS, agri-environment has been significantly

undermined compared to REPS and this needs to be addressed under the new programme. Pillar II schemes have played a critical role throughout the country in terms of modernisation, restructuring and the retention of farming in poorer areas. These schemes have taken a hammering in successive national budgets since 2009 and the Minister must deliver a well resourced secure budget for the 2014 to 2020 period. On a separate issue, the Association has contacted every rural deputy in the State asking for their support in the campaign of resistance to the proposals, reported to be tabled shortly, by Minister Quinn that will classify farms as capital assets for the purposes of inclusion in calculating eligibility for Third Level grants. Minister Coveney is already on record expressing his disquiet over these proposals. He must know that a threshold of €750,000 will effectively mean that every dairy farm family in the country will have this unfair ‘capital asset’ value used against them if their children apply for Third Level grants – regardless of the actual income earned by the family. This is unfair to the selfemployed sector in general and to farming families, in particular. In fact, the proposal is so manifestly unfair that it is amazing that it can even be considered. Income is the only fair way of settling who is and who is not eligible for third level grants.

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Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

MACRA NA FEIRME LAUNCHES RDS SHEEP SCHOLARSHIP Macra na Feirme President, Alan Jagoe, has launched the RDS-Macra na Feirme Young Sheep Farmer Award for Macra members. The Royal Dublin Society has teamed up with Macra na Feirme to identify a suitable candidate for selection. Now in its fourth year, this award has a total prize fund of €3,000 and strengthens both organisations’ commitment to promoting the professional development of young farmers in Ireland. Speaking at the launch, Mr. Jagoe said, “The RDSMacra na Feirme Young Sheep Farmer Award has grown year on year and standards have consistently risen. In its fourth year, the scholarship will provide the winner with an excellent opportunity to travel abroad and gain valuable insight into production methods on an international level. This young farmer is then well positioned to progress the sheep enterprise on their farm. Opportunities such as this scholarship are crucial to young farmers who want to refine their skills and expertise and Macra are delighted to work with the RDS on this scholarship". Mr. Tom Cannon, RDS Committee of Agriculture Chairman, said he is looking forward to meeting this year’s entrants. “Young Sheep Farmers are passionate about the potential in the industry and are eager to learn new production techniques and modern farming methods to improve efficiency and profitability. Last year, the standard of entries was extremely high and we are anticipating that it will be just as good this year”. Founded in 1731, the RDS continues to fulfill its com-

Issuing of SFP applications IFA urge speedy response With Single Farm Payment applications now being issued by the Department of Agriculture, IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey has called on all farmers to ensure that their SFP application is returned to the Department of Agriculture well in advance of the 15th May deadline. Mr. Downey stressed the importance of avoiding delays in payment and farmers should check that their details are correct. IFA is again urging the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to ensure that digitising of maps does not hold up payments. Furthermore, Mr Downey said that inspection

problems must be sorted out and it is unacceptable that farmers who are selected for inspection continue to have their payment held up. He called for better co-ordination of inspections and the avoidance of duplication as well as increased tolerance, reduced penalties and a strict adherence to prompt payment deadlines. The IFA Deputy President highlighted the need to eliminate unannounced inspections. “IFA is demanding that no inspector arrives on a farm without reasonable prior notice. As per the Charter of Rights, he said the Department should provide notice for the majority of inspec-

tions.” Continuing, the IFA Deputy President called on all outstanding 2012 REPS 4/AEOS and Disadvantaged Areas to be paid out immediately. “It is not acceptable that only 46% of last year’s AEOS 2 payments have been made. Excuses such as computer problems are simply not acceptable and the Minister must intervene in the matter.” In relation to AEOS 3, Eddie Downey called for the maximum number of farmers to be allowed into the scheme. A start-up date of 1st April this year must apply with the plan lasting for a period of 5 years and 9 months.

Merchants must cut excessive interest rate charges

Alan Jagoe and Tom Cannon. mitment to furthering the broad economic and cultural development of Ireland. The RDS-Macra na Feirme Young Sheep Farmer Award is part of the RDS Foundation Agriculture and Rural Affairs programme which aims to promote best practice and efficiency in farming to ensure farm household profitability and sustainability in Ireland. The winner of this award

will receive an RDS Silver Medal and a grant for €3,000 to undertake international travel for a minimum of six weeks to learn about sheep farming in another country and gain knowledge that will subsequently benefit the individual in Ireland. Applicants can be full-time or parttime sheep farmers or students aspiring to become a sheep farmer. Eligible applicants must be under

35 years of age on the date of application. Application forms are available from www.macra. ie and agriculture and completed forms should be returned to Damien Govern, Macra na Feirme, Irish farm Centre, Bluebell, Dublin 12 or to The closing date for entries is Friday, May 3, 2013.

IFA Farm Business Chairman, Tom Doyle said that the interest rates being charged by some merchants on farm debtor accounts are excessive and are bordering on extortionate. Mr Doyle said, “Initial findings from an on-going IFA merchant interest rate survey show that rates in excess of 20% APR are being charged when clearly these agri-businesses are capable of borrowing at rates in single digit territory. Some members of the trade are taking advantage of the current situation in what has been one of the longest and most expensive winters in living mem-

ory for livestock farmers, many of whom are facing in-ordinate feed bills. The trade must immediately cut interest rates and extend credit terms to help farmers through the current fodder crisis.” “IFA will continue to monitor the situation closely and will be publishing a nationwide merchant interest rate survey in the coming weeks. Farmers need to be more vigilant when availing of merchant credit and ideally should use cheaper bank loans to pay for the goods before the interest free period expires. Farmers should also insist that accounts are cleared to a specific point rather than

making repeated on account payments with no credits accruing.” Mr Doyle concluded, “I have again made contact with the banks to urge them to renew their support for farmers during this difficult time. This includes extending working capital to farmers and the agri-supply sector, communicating early with customers under pressure, providing flexible and affordable restructuring options to relieve pressure on incomes and converting high-cost merchant credit into a longer term, more sustainable, bank loan”.

Minister Burton’s farm assist cuts hitting low income farmers at time of crisis IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said the changes in the Budget by the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton for the means test for Farm Assist were now impacting on this lowincome group at a time when they are under severe pressure because of the recent bad weather and fodder shortage. Flor McCarthy said Minister Burton has refused to meet IFA on this matter despite several requests over the past few months, and he called on Fine Gael TDs to take this matter up with the Minister immediately. “Her unfair treat-

ment of farmers in the social welfare system, compared to other lowincome working families in society who are eligible for the Family Income Supplement, is discriminatory.” He said that the decision to abolish the income and child disregards in the means test, and which came into effect on 1st of April, will lead to farmers losing up to 20% of their payment. In addition, lowincome farmers will find it harder to qualify in future. A farmer with two children with a farm income of €15,000 per annum could see their Farm

Assist payment drop by €2,555 per annum, or €49 per week. He pointed out that a married farmer with no children, whose spouse is not working off-farm and with a farm income of €10,000, will see their Farm Assist payment reduce from €7,765 per annum or €149.32 weekly to €6,265 per annum or €120.50 per week. Mr McCarthy warned that unless there are changes made to this budget decision many farmers will be in a dire situation. He called on Government TDs to defend low-income farmers.

Offaly farm leader says growing concern about spread of Schmallenberg into dairy herds

Westmeath IFA presenting Honorary Life Membership to Alan Murray from Bunbrosna for his life long commitment to Westmeath IFA. Pictured are l-r: John Harte, President of Westmeath IFA; J J Farrell, Treasurer; Paddy Donnelly; IFA President, John Bryan; Alan Murray and Joe Henson.

The Chairman of the ICMSA Beef & Cattle Committee, Tullamore farmer Michael Guinan, has said that there was growing concern about the spread of Schmallenberg into dairy herds and he confirmed that his association was receiving more enquiries from members becoming more anxious about the spread of the virus.

Mr Guinan said that the first priority must be the rollout of a vaccine against the disease and he urged the Department to move immediately on this. Nor would the Department’s responsibilities end there, according to Mr Guinan: “The Department must give all assistance possible to those farmers with infected animals and

that must mean active consideration of a compensation scheme. The last year has been one of the most stressful for farmers in living memory and we’d urge the Department to look at helping affected farmers, who – through no fault of their own – have had to suffer this latest setback”, said the Beef & Cattle Chairman.


Topic Newspapers • 11 April, 2013

Improved ground conditions will allow farmers to clear backlog of work

Edward Carr (centre) milks 125 Spring calving cows, near Milestone in County Tipperary. He plans to feed the new BreederMaX ration to the herd this year. He was visited this week by Dan O’Connor Feeds’ Ailbe Ryan (left) and Bryan Doocey.

BreederMaX breaks the mould in boosting cow fertility and milk output Edward Carr milks 125 cows at Milestone, near Thurles, County Tipperary. In February of this year he successfully calved 100 cows and heifers. “I’m very pleased with the current levels of fertility within the herd,” he confirmed. “However, I believe this level of performance can be improved on. I normally calve 150 animals in total during a six week breeding season, which gets underway at the beginning of February. Most years I have 25 calved heifers to sell on. “The herd has just endured a pretty hard winter. Silage quality was moderate and I noticed that body condition wasn’t what it should have been with a number of cows in the run up to calving. Given this set of circumstances I will certainly be using BreederMaX, the early lactation dairy nut from Dan O’Connor Feeds, this year.” BreederMaX is the latest generation in dairy feeds, designed to maximize quality milk output and cow fertility.

Brian Doocey, company sales manager, a recent visitor to the Carr farm, takes up the story: “BreederMaX breaks new ground in tackling the negative energy balance which impacts on every dairy cow post calving,” he explained. “The new feed range is made from the highest quality Glucogenic raw materials. Also included is bespoke trace element and vitamin pack, containing Sel-Plex and BioPlex Zinc and Copper. Bioplexes and Sel-Plex are organic forms of copper, zinc, manganese and selenium which have years of experience in nurturing the immune and reproductive systems of Irish cows to help improve the chance of maximising fertility.” “Biotin, or Vitamin B7, is also included to improve hoof quality, particularly important if cows are expected to walk long distances from the grazing paddocks to the milking parlour and back each day.” “But what makes BreederMaX truly unique is its ability to reduce urea lev-

Molloy Agrispares go from strength to strength Nicholas Molloy always had a close relationship with farm machinery and agriculture. After leaving school he went straight to work on the family business with his father who has been in the conacre/tillage business since he left school. After a few years Nicholas started to grow fodder beet and became one of the first around to be able to provide washed fodder beet direct to the farmer, which he continues to do. Nicholas always wanted something to do outside of the field, and at the end of 2011 an opportunity faced him in Tullamore where a well known business was winding down after 40 years in the machinery and machinery spare parts due to retirement. Nicholas took a huge leap in life and started trading where R F Colton had traded for 40 years. Since then he has been blessed with some really good agencies which brings

Nicholas to where he stands today, running a parts store where he has a very experienced storeman with great expertise. When asked how business is going after his first year, he said that getting his grasp on things was much harder than he thought it would be, but he is getting there. He explained that getting his name out there and his intentions to his fellow farmers was difficult. He understands exactly what its like to be the customer and he knows how hard it is out in the real world of Irish farming. Nicholas would like to take this opportunity to thank all his customers and look forward to seeing them again, along with some new ones. Molloy Agri Spares at Clara Road, Tullamore, are open 6 days 9am to 6 pm. Mon. to Fri. Closed for lunch 1.00pm to 2.00 pm. Open Sat. 9.00am to 1.00pm.

els, a feature of the blood and milk profiles produced by Irish cows on diet containing high levels of grazed grass. “This is achieved by the inclusion of De-oderase, a yucca plant extract which mops up the excess urea produced by cows on grassbased diets.” In a recently completed 150 day lactation study, designed to monitor the

impact of De-oderase, cows produced 1.25 kg more milk on a daily basis, milk urea nitrogen levels were significantly reduced and body condition scores increased. True milk protein production was increased by 40g/cow/day. Fertility parameters, also monitored in the study, confirmed a reduction in days to first oestrus, days open, and inseminations per

IFA President John Bryan believes the improvement in ground conditions this week due to better weather will allow farmers to clear the backlog of work on farms. “The month of March was one of the coldest on record and farmers now need to push ahead with the spreading of fertiliser and the sowing of crops. The warmer weather that is predicted from next weekend on should finally see the start of grass growth, after a difficult and costly winter for farm families,” said Mr Bryan. The IFA president encouraged farmers to assist one another after a very difficult

year. He called on farmers to assess what fodder they have and to allow neighbours in need to use any extra surplus. “Even with grass growth around the corner, the pressure is still on farmers in some parts of the country who are running low on supplies. There has been a very good response from within the farming community in recent weeks, and this should continue,” observed the IFA president. Mr Bryan also took an opportunity to remind banks, co-ops and feed mills of the need to support their farmer customers by ensuring that adequate cash flow and feed are provided. He

seemed confident that improvements in cash flow are set to continue. “Commodity prices in dairy, beef and lamb look set to remain strong for the year and farmers will use improvements in their cash flow situation to clear their accounts,” said Mr Bryan. The IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey urged farmers who find themselves under pressure to contact their Teagasc advisor, their local IFA officer or a neighbour to discuss any difficulties. “There is assistance available to farmers who need help, and nobody shpuld be afraid to seek out support,” said Mr Downey.

pregnancy, cystic ovaries and the incidence of endometritis. Brian Doocey commented: “cows only require a certain level of protein in the diet for the purposes of maintenance and milk production. If these levels are exceeded, which is the case for almost every cow in Ireland on a grazed grass production system, the excess nitrogen must be excreted in the form of urea. This requires additional energy and puts the cow’s metabolic system under increased pressure: hence

she is more predisposed to a range of production, health and fertility related challenges. “BreederMaX breaks new ground in allowing cows to maintain an effective nitrogen balance while, at the same time, providing all the energy, mineral and vitamins they need to maximize output and subsequent fertility levels.” “BreederMaX is available in bulk form only and farmers can opt for a 14% or 16% protein formulation,” Bryan Doocey further explained.

“The recommended feeding rate is four kilos but can go as low as 2.75 kgs per head per day.” He concluded: “Maximising fertility levels remains the most important objective for dairy farmers with spring calving dairy herds. The good news is that the development of BreederMaX has just made the attainment of this objective more than a little bit easier.” For further information contact Dan O’Connor Feeds on 061 414988.

Farming Supplement Spring 2014  
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