SCHEME RULES OUT COMMONAGE & MILITATES AGAINST MEDIUM INTENSITY FARMERS
Sligo News File
ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has expressed shock that the proposed REAP scheme is designed to exclude the vast majority of medium intensity farmers in order to accommodate the most intensive derogation farmers. “The proposal is to divide the applicants into two groups, one (farmers with less than 140kg N/ha stocking rate) of which will be selected on the basis of lowest stocking rate and one (farmers with greater than 140kg N/ha stocking rate) which will be biased towards the highest stocking rate.”
“This is an incredible signal. The farmer who needs a nitrates derogation is welcome to claim even more money from CAP whereas those who are less intensive are potentially ruled out. It is also surprising that commonage land and land with heather is excluded.”
“The scheme provides for €1,200 participation fee, but this will be eaten into by planner costs. The focus is on low input pasture or on multi-species leys (for the intensive farmers) and also includes extra money for planting trees and hedges. There is a lot of focus on higher payments for wider field margins and stone wall quality for bonus payments but obviously there will be cost associated with this. For example, tree planting is included at a rate of €9.20 per tree.”
“To be fair some of the ideas are worth further consideration but the overall problem is that the upper limit of 10 hectares militates against a decent payment overall. The Minister needs to explain why there is only €10 million for this scheme when farmers were led to believe that a much higher figure was proposed in the budget. In the Low Input Grassland measure the payment is between €250-400/ha on up to 10 hectares. This is combined with the participation fee (€1,200) and a possible complementary payment (for tree planting) up to €1,200. In that scenario (maximum tree planting assumed) the overall payment is somewhere between €4,900-€6,400.”
For the longer term we need a scheme that can deliver €15,000 to low-income cattle, sheep, and tillage farmers. ICSA will totally oppose a scheme that rules out low-income farmers in order to accommodate intensive derogation farmers who are typically earning multiples of what the cattle and sheep farmers are getting. It is not acceptable to divert more CAP funds to the most intensive and larger scale farms, who are reliant on a derogation.”
‘Thousands of meat workers have caught the deadly coronavirus’
Working conditions in plants described as ‘alarming’
Sligo News File
Moving to introduce a Bill to provide for the protection of ‘certain’ foreign nationals in the State, Deputy Paul Murphy told the Dail:
“It is shameful that 90% of meat factory workers still, to this day, do not have access to sick pay. It was this time last year when I first raised in the Dáil how Covid-19 was being allowed to rip through the meat plants. The Government rallied to defend the beef barons, accusing me of smearing those companies. It took a sustained campaign by People Before Profit, the unions and others to get the State even to inspect the plants and discover that there was, in fact, a serious issue.
“The Government still prefers to ignore the clear exploitation and abuse of workers in this sector, especially migrant workers who are here on general employment permits. Many people feel they have to go to work, even with Covid symptoms, partially out of fear for their jobs and partially because they simply could not afford not to work. Despite a lot of talk, the Government has still not done anything about this, forcing People Before Profit to step in with this Bill to begin to address the issue. Our Bill would require the beef barons to provide sick pay by making it a condition for work permits. It would be an important step towards providing sick pay for all.
“Yesterday, the Taoiseach, incredibly, told me that the meat plants had already “been dealt with”, as if it was now under control. The truth is that the situation in the meat plants today is alarming. This morning’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre, HPSC, report shows 28 open outbreaks across the 56 meat plants in the State and that six meat factory workers currently are hospitalised. Thousands of meat workers have caught this virus. Dozens have been hospitalised and some have ended up in intensive care units. The figures released do not say whether any have lost their lives but we know that many will suffer with the long-term effects for years to come. Yet the Taoiseach claimed the issue has been dealt with, that it is old news. It is clear which side he is on.
“One objection I would expect to hear from the corporate lobbyists is the claim that cannot afford to pay sick pay. Let us be clear, the beef barons could well afford to pay their workers sick pay, they just do not want to. A recent report stated “Nine companies in the Goodman Group [ABP] made a profit of €170 million last year and had assets worth more than €3.45 billion”. The bulk of the profits were booked in Luxembourg and were largely untaxed. Moy Park, in 2019, had a turnover of €1.8 billion and profits of €81.5 million. Dawn Meats had a turnover of €2.1 billion. Kepak had a turnover of €1.5 billion. The list goes on.
“These are massive companies making major profits, yet they are refusing to pay sick pay and the Government refuses to make them. It will, ultimately, take a militant labour movement that forces changes whereby workers become organised and assert themselves. This Bill shows what Deputies can do to support workers. I encourage others to join People Before Profit in supporting and promoting this Bill to force the bosses to pay sick pay.”
Deputy Bríd Smith:
“Employment permit legislation is very complex, difficult and labyrinthine, deliberately so, because it speaks of the State’s attitude to migrant workers, which in many cases is one of barely concealed contempt. Getting a permit, renewing a permit and surviving here is not made easy by the State or by many employers who are willing to use the labour of migrant workers but are unwilling to pay them decent wages or provide them with decent conditions. The entire area needs root-and-branch reform and workers must be at the forefront in that regard. I hope to see them organised in great numbers in trade unions in the coming years and joining with Irish workers in demanding workers rights and decent livelihoods.
“The intent behind the Bill is to try to address an imbalance. It will allow a number of other measures beyond those that Deputy Paul Murphy outlined. It will allow workers the right to change employers within the first year that they arrive here and will strip employers of the huge power they hold over migrant workers. Second, it will give migrant workers access to the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC, where their employment permit is not valid. We have had cases of workers being rewarded up to €90,000 for unpaid and exploitative labour by the WRC, but the money could not be paid because of a loophole stating that if a work permit is invalid, the individual cannot receive the reward. The Bill attempts to address that matter.
Claimed vets in the State being bypassed by ‘certain cohorts of farmers’ who acquire ‘strong and controlled’ animal medicines over the counter in some outlets North of the border
Claims dismissed by farm organisation
Sligo News File
It’s understood an investigation has been launched by the Northern Ireland Department of Health following RTE Prime Time programme in which it was claimed that a number of outlets in the North are selling animal medicines over the counter without any clinical supervision of the animals they are being supplied for.
The programme reported a Galway-based veterinary representative as saying there was obviously a supply coming to the South, especially to some larger industrial farms, a situation veterinary practitioners would have complained about for years.
Prime Time alleged it had obtained secretly recorded footage showing two men purchasing veterinary medication over the counter even though their farms or their animals were not known to the outlet that was selling the drugs.
One of the products sold, the programme said, was a “High Priority Critically Important Antibiotic.” It did not name the product, but stated veterinarians described it as a medication of “last resort.”
It referenced comments of international food safety expert Professor Chris Elliot, head of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queens University who warned that Ireland’s food exports could be under threat owing to a failure of relevant regulatory bodies to enforce measures governing the sale of animal medicines. Prof Elliott, led the British Government’s independent review of food systems following the 2013 horse meat scandal.
According to Prime Time, Prof Elliott found the RTE footage “totally shocking” and “totally inappropriate”.
He added, said Prime Time, that if the drugs were administered by farmers who don’t understand the implications of the use of these antibiotics, there was a much higher likelihood of residues entering the food chain.
“Whenever livestock are given antibiotics, there has to be a period of time where it enters their system, does the job, and then is cleared from the system.
“We call it the withdrawal period. Veterinary practitioners will be very, very clear about that withdrawal period.”
There is a concern that, if animal antibiotics are used inappropriately, residues could end up in the food chain.
Authorities, the programme added, have been working hard to reduce antibiotic use in animals, since antimicrobial resistance has become one of the most difficult challenges facing human and animal health in recent years.
But now a farm representative has taken issue with claims farmers do not understand, or ignore withdrawal periods, when using antibiotics to treat livestock.
Hugh Farrell, Chairman of the ICSA Animal Health and Welfare committee said: “The correct use of antibiotics in the treatment of livestock is a central part of Bord Bia inspections and is also a requirement for cross compliance under the CAP funded schemes.” .
He went on: “Under the CAP schemes, around 7,000 farm inspections are carried out annually – many of which focus on animal medicines – so farmers are highly conscious of all the issues surrounding the management and correct use of antibiotics on farm. In addition, the animal remedy register and medicines cabinet is a central part of the inspection process for the Bord Bia Quality Assurance scheme in which all participants are audited at least once every 18 months.”
Mr Farrell said his assessment is supported by the fact that out of almost 17,000 samples taken from farms and food processing facilities here there was an issue with just 53, which is one third of 1%.
“Any comprehensive residue testing regime which shows a compliance rate of 99.7% proves conclusively that the system is working well, and the tiny number of infractions could potentially be accounted for by basic human error.”
“The report gives clarity that there is little, or no antibiotic residue found. This reinforces the fact that our farmers are working professionally and diligently and to the highest standards. It is also important to note that most animals who are treated with antibiotics are not factory fit, in that they are mostly cows post calving, or calves experiencing respiratory difficulties. This further reduces any potential for antibiotic residues to enter the food chain.”
“Our farmers have proven themselves to be close to 100% compliant around the use of antibiotics, and a result like this shows that the issue has been blown out of all proportion by the veterinary union. As indicated during the piece, the regulator in the North may have some issues to resolve, but this should in no way imply any issue with regulation in the south.”
Geraldine Durkan, Ballymoghany, Enniscrone passed away recently at the Galway Clinic.
A dedicated and much loved teacher, Geraldine (nee Judge) was for several years Principal of Knockanillo National School in North Mayo.
One of three children born to Mary Jo and the late Joseph Judge, Baile Mhic Mhathr, Castlehill, Geraldine found her passion in teaching.
An inspiring educator and communicator, she contributed fulsomely to the tradition that made her school known throughout the region and beyond for the quality of its education and the social activity it encouraged.
In the welcoming and supportive environment she helped to foster, the children, said a Department of Education report were “very friendly, confident and enthusiastic learners.” The report praised the standard of teaching, the management of relationships within the school community and the extent to which parents were supportive of their children’s involvement in the range of in-school and extra-curricular activities.
In 2008, Geraldine took special pleasure in announcing that pupils and staff at Knockanillo had won the prestigious Green-Schools Flag, an award based on a European-wide environmental education programme which involves taking environmental issues from the curriculum and applying them to the day-to-day running of the school.
School projects flourished: Grandparents Day, a social aspect, when older residents – some former pupils themselves – chatted with pupils about the past was among the many events laid on under Geraldine’s progressive leadership.
2018 was a milestone in the history of the school with the celebration of its centenary, an occasion attended by dignitaries, present and former pupils and parents, as well as members of the community. A former pupil, Fr. Gerry Gillespie, was that year celebrating the golden Jubliee of his ordination. Also present was a one-time principal of the school, former Government Minister Paddy O’Toole. Sadly, however, it was to be one of Geraldine’s last engagements in Knockanillo.
Geraldine met the love of her life David early in her teaching career. After they married, David and Geraldine settled in Ballymoghany, a beautiful rural setting close to Enniscrone where they raised a family of four, a daughter and three sons. She was involved in the parish Community Games committee.
Hundreds of tributes poured in following the announcement of her death. One said: “It is no surprise to read the many tributes to Geraldine on her untimely passing. She was one of those rare people who radiate warmth and naturally makes friends wherever they go. Everybody has their special memory of her but her infectious and warm personality always lingers.” Another wrote: “She was a beautiful person and an amazing teacher.”
Geraldine was predeceased by her father Joseph and mother-in-law Margaret (nee Reape) She leaves behind her loving husband David, daughter Aoife, sons Stephen, Brian & Eoughan, mother Mary Joe, sister Ann Holmes (Knockmore), brother Willie Judge (Castlehill), father-in-law Michael, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces and relatives.
Following Requiem Mass in St. Joseph’s Church, Castleconnor she was laid to rest in Killanley cemetery.
‘Bursting with flavour protein, vitamins, and minerals’
Sligo News File
ICSA sheep chairman Sean McNamara is urging families to include a serving of spring lamb in their Easter menu this weekend. “We are very lucky to have a plentiful supply of top quality locally produced lamb in this country.
Sheep farmers, he said, “have been working day and night to ensure families right around Ireland can sit down and savour the very best of what Irish farming has to offer over this holiday weekend.
“It is important to remember that we don’t have to look very far for the finest quality and healthiest options. Not only is our spring lamb bursting with flavour, but it is also packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is nutrient rich, wholesome food at its very best.”
Referencing vegan food, Mr McNamara pointed to recent research from Safefood.net which found that many products of this kind contain little or no protein. “Often what is seen as a healthy option can turn out to be anything but. A lot of these substitute products are heavily processed and contain a lengthy list of spurious ingredients. At least with lamb, you know what you are getting, 100% natural, sustainably produced, world class fare.
“Throughout the Covid crisis, ICSA members have been proudly displaying bumper stickers on the tractors that read ‘Farmer on Duty – Feeding the Nation’, and I would encourage anyone who can to show their appreciation for the dedication our Irish producers have shown over the last year – simply by buying local produce. And if you have haven’t tried Irish lamb for a while, be sure to make it top of your shopping list this weekend.”
Bundle of ideas to encourage people back to long neglected towns and villages
Sligo News File
The government has said the rural regeneration plan it has announced will encourage thousands to return to the country’s rundown towns and villages.
According to Ryan, the Green the plan is the most important change for rural Ireland since the decades-long electrification scheme which brought electric power to every home in the country.
No funding details were given nor, at the launch, did Heather Humphreys, the minister with responsibility for the plan explain in response to questions how investment is to be targeted.
In November 2019,Michael Ring, then Minister for Community Development announced €15 million in funding under the 2019 Town and Village Renewal Scheme for 156 rural towns and villages across the country.
Examples of some of the key actions which the government has said will be delivered through the current Our Rural Future plan include:
Establish a network of over 400 remote working hubs nationwide, to enable more people to live and work in rural communities. Pilot co-working and hot desking hubs for civil servants in regional towns.
Move to 20% remote working in the public sector in 2021, with further annual increase over the next 5 years.
IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta to promote and enable the uptake of remote working across their client base.
Fund the repurposing of vacant buildings in town centres into remote working hubs.
Review the tax arrangements for remote working for both employers and employees as part of Budget 2022.
Introduce legislation in 2021 to provide employees with the right to request remote work.
Provide funding to Local Authorities to run targeted campaigns to attract remote workers to their area.
Examine the introduction of specific incentives to attract remote workers and mobile talent to live in rural towns.
Revitalising Rural Towns and Villages
Put the future development and regeneration of rural towns at the heart of decision making through a new Town Centre First approach. Invest significantly in the revitalisation of town centres through the €1Billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
Develop a new pilot scheme to support the use of rural pubs as community spaces and hubs for local services.
Examine the establishment of a Community Ownership Fund to help community groups and social enterprises buy or take over local community assets and facilities at risk of being lost.
As part of Budget 2022, examine the introduction of new financial supports to incentivise residential occupancy in rural towns.
Exempt ‘over the shop’ type spaces from requiring planning permission for change of use for residential purposes.
Enhance the powers of Local Authorities to offer commercial rates-based incentives targeting vacant commercial units.
Provide funding for the enhancement and upgrade of shopfronts and street facades.
Examine the introduction of ‘meanwhile use’ legislation so that empty buildings and shops on main streets can be brought back into use on a short-term basis as pop up shops, street markets and exhibition spaces.
Expand the Town and Village Renewal Scheme as a key enabler to bring vacant and derelict buildings back into use as multi-purposes spaces and for residential use.
Fund the adaption of town centres and the development of outdoor spaces in rural towns for socialising.
Prioritise the siting of new State agencies, Departments and enterprises in towns and cities outside of Dublin.
Optimising Digital Connectivity & New Technologies
Roll-out the National Broadband Plan, the largest scale investment in rural Ireland since electrification.
Explore how the NBP can be accelerated to deliver connectivity as soon as possible in rural areas.
Increase the capacity for remote and blended learning to enable young people to access further and higher education courses while living in their own communities.
Support rural enterprises to diversify into new sectors and markets by taking advantage of high speed broadband and new technologies.
Provide grants to retail businesses in rural towns and villages to establish an online presence to complement traditional footfall trade.
Develop and implement a new Adult Digital Literacy Strategy so that everybody, regardless of age, can capitalise on the connectivity and opportunities presented by the National Broadband Plan. Jobs
Through the updated National Development Plan invest in key infrastructure projects to support balanced regional development.
Target 400 new IDA investments for regional locations outside of Dublin over the period 2021-2024.
Develop and construct Advanced Technology Buildings and landing space for multinational companies in 19 strategic regional locations.
Invest in and deliver more Technological Universities to help support regional growth and to act as an anchor for regional economic development, research and investment.
Publish a new Action Plan for Apprenticeship to ensure that we have a modern and responsive apprenticeship programme in key regional sectors
Introduce a new National Outdoor Recreation Strategy, backed up by increased investment in trails, greenways, cycleways, blueways, angling and other rural amenities to capitalise on the increased demand for adventure tourism and bring economic benefits to rural towns and villages.
Develop Ireland’s first ever Dark Skies Strategy, with a focus on the opportunities this unique blend of tourism and science can create for rural communities.
Support the development of new flagship cross-border tourism projects, such as the Ulster Canal.
Implement Culture and Creative Strategies in each Local Authority area, including “Culture Days”, to showcase local cultural heritage.
Update the Rural Housing Guidelines for planning authorities.
Identify the scope to channel additional Government services through the post office network.
Implement a €70 million Transitional LEADER Programme for community-led rural development for the period 2021-2022, and develop and deliver a new LEADER programme to commence in 2023, in line with the next EU funding framework.
Provide improved rural public transport services, including enhancements to Local Link, a subsidised Local Area Hackney Scheme for remote locations and a pilot to examine the potential for ride hailing services to improve rural connectivity.
Increase the number of places on the Rural Social Scheme, TÚS AND Community Employment Schemes to support rural communities. Establish 96 new Community Healthcare Networks across the country to support people to live more independently in their community by coordinating and integrating services, with general practitioners, health and social care professions and nursing leadership at the local level.
Support research and development in areas such as agri-food, biobased systems, smart agriculture and precision agriculture to promote and encourage innovation and diversification.
Expand the number of farmers’ markets, farm shops and community-owned markets in all towns, to showcase produce from local farmers, growers and food producers.
Enact legislation implementing revised provisions for the Fair Deal Scheme in respect of assets which are family-owned and operated farms and businesses.
Support generation renewal, including young farmers and women in agriculture, through the CAP, taxation measures and access to finance initiatives.
Publish and implement a new 10-year policy for the development of our offshore islands.
Establish enterprise hubs on our islands to support employment opportunities
Utilise the islands as test-beds for innovative technologies in areas such as eHealth and micro-generation of renewable energy.
Develop an integrated, place-based approach to rural development to maximise investment and meet the long-term needs of individual parishes, villages and towns by supporting rural communities to develop long-term cohesive Master Plans for their areas.
Develop a single online portal to provide a funding roadmap on the range of programmes and schemes available across Government for rural and community development.
Establish a Rural Youth Assembly to allow young people living in rural Ireland to make an ongoing contribution to issues that impact on them and their future.
Establish a permanent Volunteer Reserve in local areas that can be called on by community and voluntary organisations and local authorities.
Develop and implement Local Digital Strategies in each Local Authority area to maximise the potential of improved rural digital connectively for businesses and communities.
Transition to a climate neural economy
Maximise our resources and strengths in the Green Economy to support employment opportunities for communities in areas such as renewal energy, sustainable tourism, retrofitting, the bioeconomy and the circular economy.
Provide funding to support the development of local allotments and community gardens.
Through the Just Transition Fund, deliver flagship projects of scale, such as the €108million Bord na Móna Peatlands Restoration Project, to assist communities in the transition to a carbon neutral economy.
Enable community energy to play a role in reaching the target of generating at least 70% of electricity through renewables by 2030, through supports such as a Community Benefit Fund and a community category within the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme.
Our Rural Future is a new whole-of-Government policy for rural Ireland for the period 2021-2025. It represents a new milestone in the approach to rural development policy for Ireland.
The policy builds on, but goes beyond, the Action Plan for Rural Development 2017-2019 by adopting a more strategic, ambitious and holistic approach to investing in and maximising opportunities for rural areas. It addresses both the challenges facing rural areas and the opportunities for rural economies and communities, including in areas such as remote working and the transition to a climate neutral society.
The policy’s objectives will be achieved through the delivery of 150 commitments, to be implemented progressively over the next five years across a range of Government Departments and agencies. Further commitments will be added to over the lifetime of the policy to respond to emerging needs and opportunities in rural areas.
It will be underpinned by investment across Government in areas such as the roll out of high-speed broadband, remote working facilities, job creation, town centre regeneration, community development, improvements in regional and local roads, new cycling and walking infrastructure, expanded rural transport services, funding for tourism, culture and heritage projects, and a just transition to a climate-neutral society.
Our Rural Future complements, and will support, the delivery of other Government policies and strategies such as Project Ireland 2040, the Climate Action Plan, the forthcoming National Economic Recovery Plan, the National Broadband Plan, the National Remote Work Strategy and the Town Centre First initiative. The policy places a particular emphasis on the relevance of those initiatives to rural areas.
The development of the policy was informed by an extensive consultation process with a wide range of rural stakeholders in 2019 and 2020.
Vision and Objectives
Our Rural Future sets out a Vision and Objectives which sees rural Ireland as central to our post-COVID recovery and integral to our longer-term national economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing and development.
The Vision emphasises the interdependence of rural and urban areas and recognises:
the centrality of the people who live in rural Ireland; the importance of vibrant and lived-in rural places; and the possibilities for rural areas to support quality jobs and contribute to sustaining our shared environment.
The policy will encourage and support rural communities to develop cohesive and integrated plans to meet the long-term needs of their own particular area, recognising that each rural place is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to meet the developmental needs of every area.
The high-level outcomes of delivering this policy will see:
More people living in rural Ireland, including in our towns and villages and on the islands; More people working in rural Ireland, with good career prospects, regardless of where their employer is headquartered; Rural Ireland contributing to, and benefiting from, the transition to a low-carbon economy and a climate-neutral society; Rural towns being vibrant hubs for commercial and social activity; and Rural communities, and especially young people, having an active role in shaping the future for rural Ireland. Thematic objectives
Our Rural Future addresses the following thematic objectives:
Optimising the opportunities for rural communities from high speed broadband, in particular through investment in remote working Supporting improved quality employment and career opportunities in rural areas
Assisting the regeneration, repopulation and development of rural towns and villages
Enhancing the participation, leadership and resilience of rural communities
Enhancing public services in rural areas
Transitioning to a climate neutral society
Supporting the Sustainability of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Supporting the sustainability of our island and coastal communities
Nurturing our culture and heritage (runs throughout the other thematic areas).
Over 150 policy commitments, each led by a named Government Department or Agency, will be progressively delivered across these themes over the policy’s five year timeframe. An annual work programme will enable new actions to be added over the policy’s lifecycle, to respond to the emerging needs of rural communities.
Less than an ounce of rasher could heighten threat of dementia, according to study
Sligo News File
With the potential adverse health effects of red meat consumption on major chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, cancer and mortality being raised ad nauseam, news now is that even the humble rasher could also be harmful.
A media piece reports that research carried out by the Nutritional Epidemiology Group of the University of Leeds has shown that eating one piece – just 24 grams mark you – of bacon rasher could increase the risk of dementia by 44%
The findings of the four year study are based on a sample of nearly 500,000 people living in the UK between the ages of 40 and 69, it’s stated.
Lead researcher Huifeng Zhang is quoted as saying the research “adds to the growing body of evidence linking processed meat consumption to increased risk of a range of non-transmissible diseases.”