Category Archives: Farming

EU tariffs driving cost of fertiliser to record high

‘Levies designed to protect member states with indigenous fertiliser industries.’

Political intervention ‘does not have widespread support.’

Sligo News File Online.

The EU is forcing up the cost of Irish farming with sweeping import tariffs and taxes on fertilisers.

Michael Collins, TD, Independent, Cork South West

Nitrogen prices have increased by up to seven times within the space of the last nine months alone, Cork Independent TD Michael Collins has told the Dail. As a result, nitrogen is around €60 per tonne more expensive than last summer.

Collins, a livestock farmer, said that currently tariffs and taxes are costing the country’s farming industry €32 million annually.

He said:

“This is making Irish commodities uncompetitive against imports from outside the EU. It is also affecting dairy farmers, who had a desperate year last year because of low milk prices, and grain farmers, many of whom are in danger of going out of business. Beef and sheep farmers are badly affected too, as are the 8,000 or so GLAS farmers who are still awaiting their payments from the Department.”

Michael Creed, TD,
Minister for Agriculture

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said that a report published by the International Food and Policy Research Institute in 2016 “concluded that the protection afforded to EU manufacturers by the application of anti-dumping duties and customs tariffs is costing farmers up to €1 billion per annum.

“Against this background, I asked the Commission to consider a temporary suspension of customs tariffs and anti-dumping duties on fertilisers in the lead-up to the March 2016 meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council. I actively pursued this issue at Council level throughout 2016 with the Commission and in
consultation with Council colleagues. I raised the issue again at the January 2017 meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, when I asked the Commission to address the significant overpricing of fertilisers in the EU brought about by the imposition of anti-dumping duties on imports. Commissioner Hogan acknowledged the desirability of bringing about lower prices but indicated that it was proving difficult to achieve, despite considerable efforts on his part with other member states and internally within the Commission.”

Creed said that “Commissioner Moscovici, rather than the

EU Commissioner for Taxation & Customs Pierre Moscovici.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Hogan, is responsible for anti-dumping tariffs because it is a competition issue. Obviously, this issue has been raised by Commissioner Hogan at Commission level.

“I would be less than honest if I failed to acknowledge that this initiative does not have widespread support. There are member states with significant indigenous fertiliser industries that are protected by these tariffs and anti-dumping levies. That adds a cost to agriculture. Nonetheless, I am personally committed to continuing to raise this matter. I do not think it would be accurate to say this issue lends itself to an easy solution.”

Future of Sligo regional veterinary laboratory still uncertain

Department consulting with stakeholders.

Decision on future will be informed by a cost-benefit analysis.

Sligo News File Online

The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has given no undertaking that the regional veterinary laboratory in Sligo will be retained.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed

Replying to queries, Creed said a Working Group led by Prof. Alan Reilly had been commissioned to carry out a comprehensive review of the department’s laboratories. The group had presented a report containing recommendations on:

– Oversight and co-ordination of the laboratories activities

– Re-organisation of Divisions and support functions within the Central Laboratory complex

– Options for the future development of the Regional Laboratories – with a view to improving disease investigative and surveillance capability but with the over-riding imperative of maintaining and enhancing services to farmers and

– Human resources management within the laboratories – with a focus on grading structures, career development opportunities and workforce planning.

The department is currently consulting with all relevant stakeholders, he said.

“A decision on any of these recommendations will await the outcome of this consultative process. In the case of the Regional Veterinary Laboratories, any decision will also be informed by a cost-benefit analysis of the various options that have been proposed for their future development.”

ICSA: Farm Families under seige by crime.

Criminal activity rife in countryside.

Lack of Garda resources to tackle criminality

Frightened farmer who confronted intruders had shotgun seized by Gardaí.

Rural community believes judicial system virtually no deterrent.

Sligo News File Online

An ICSA survey carried out in conjunction with the Waterford Institute of Technology shows that 66% of farming families have been victims of illegal activities.

Patrick Kent, President. ICSA

Association President Patrick Kent said that the survey reveals that crime against agricultural enterprises is “a far bigger issue than official Garda statistics would suggest.”

Dubbing the findings as “startling,” he said the figures would “suggest that the courts have adopted a far too lenient approach to offenders, particularly to repeat offenders.

“The rural community believes that the judicial system provides virtually no deterrent to this type of crime,” he said.

The survey was devised by Dr Kathleen Moore Walsh, Lecturer in Law and Criminology and Louise Walsh, a lecturer in Accounting and Finance, and examines crimes that occur solely on farms or relating to farming activities.

Seamus Sherlock, Chair, ICSA Rural Development Committee.

Chairman of the association’s rural development committee, Seamus Sherlock said the survey results were “in keeping with the feedback I am getting from farmers all around the country.

“The ordinary decent people of rural Ireland are outraged that criminals seem to be acting with impunity. Even where insurance is in place, premiums are always at risk of rising significantly as a result of this type of crime.

“Worse still is that farmers are expected to fund expensive deterrents such as electric gates and security cameras.”

Rural communities, he said “feel under siege due to lack of Garda resources.

“Even where the Gardaí are successful in catching criminals the perception is that they get off lightly in the courts and are given every benefit of the doubt.

However, no such flexibility is shown to law abiding citizens.

“At a recent meeting I was told a story about a frightened farmer who confronted intruders with his shotgun, and within hours his shotgun was seized by Gardaí.

“We also had a report recently from a farmer who was warned by Gardaí after a break in that if a gate fell on the thieves they might possibly sue him for compensation.

Nearly 150 Garda stations have been closed since 2011, most of them rural locations.

“These cases are adding to the sense of outrage and ICSA is committed to bringing the issue of rural crime to the top of the political agenda.”

The ICSA, he said, would like to thank Glanbia Agribusiness and Done Deal for their support in promoting the survey.

A survey carried out by Macra na Feirme in 2016 showed that eight out of 10 young farmers in Ireland hold that they should have the right to bear arms

Meanwhile, the Mail Online reports that, on Thursday, a jury took just 24 minutes to clear an 83-year-old cross-channel farmer of grevious bodily harm after he was put on trial for shooting an apparently convicted burglar in the foot. The incident occurred at the farmer’s isolated farm at Wilberfoss, near York, at 2 am. He is said to have told the court that he was ‘petrified’ when a Land Rover ‘revved up’ without lights on and set off towards him.

He fired two shots – one towards the side of the vehicle and another in the air to frighten the occupants away.

Explaining the law on self-defence as it stands in Britain, the Mail states:

There is no rule in law to say that a person must wait to be struck first before they may defend themselves.

A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances for the purposes of:

self defence
defence of another
defence of a property
prevention of crime
lawful arrest

In assessing reasonable of the force used, a judge/jury will consider two questions:

Was the use of force necessary in the circumstances, i.e. Was there a need for any force at all?
Was the force used reasonable in the circumstances?

Processors shearing Clean Livestock Policy at expense of sheep producers

‘Farmers again being forced to carry the can’

Sligo News File Online.

ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has said that the spirit of the Department of Agriculture’s new Clean Livestock Policy for sheep is being ignored by processors in favour of cashing in at the expense of producers.

John Brooks, Chairman,
ICSA National Sheep Committee

When creating the policy the Department envisaged, he said, “that the vast majority of sheep presented for slaughter would fall into Category A, requiring no clipping, however on the ground we are seeing up to 100% of sheep being clipped at certain factories with the full cost applied to the producer.”

He said the “ICSA had feared that this new policy would ultimately be manipulated by processors so the cost burden could be put back on to producers. As a result of this manipulation, evidence would suggest that this is a mandatory processing requirement along the kill line, and as such, the cost should be absorbed by processors. Instead, farmers are once again being forced to carry the can.”

Under the CLP, sheep presented for slaughter would fall into three categories; Category A Satisfactory, Category B Acceptable and Category C Unacceptable.

However, Mr. Brooks said “We still await visuals, in the form of photographs, that will help decipher the category a sheep falls in to. However, there is still confusion as to who will ultimately decide the category and the subjective nature of those decisions. Moreover, while guidelines have been issued to producers, processors, and hauliers regarding CLP, it is notable that penalties are only applied to producers for non-compliance.”

“ICSA does not condone producers bringing sheep for slaughter in an unfit condition, however, this should be an issue between the individual factory and the producer in question. The situation should not be used to cynically extract extra monies from all farmers.”

Fitzmaurice opposes Cowen free water for all proposal

‘I cannot stand by and allow situation…where water can be wasted willy nilly without someone having to pay for it.’

Sligo councillor says Fianna Fail not to blame for charges.

Sligo News File

Michael Fitzmaurice’s call for the retention of water charges will most probably fall on deaf ears.

Michael Fitzmaurice, TD
Roscommon -South Leitrim

The Independent Roscommon TD asserts that everyone should have to pay for usage above an agreed allowance.

However, his statement omits to mention that people have been doling out for piped water ever since VAT was increased years ago to pay for the service. He also fails to mention that householders served by group schemes were entitled to receive 49,500 gallons annually free of charge for domestic usage.

What then is his beef about the Exchequer – towards which every taxpayer in contributing – continuing to pick up the bill for the country’s water services?

It seems from what he has to say that his concern is water wastage. He doesn’t elaborate as to what he considers is wastage; instead, he takes issue with a comment of Fianna Fail spokesman Barry Cowen who proposed that people should be allowed to use whatever amount of water they liked without penalty.

“That’s just ludicrous and makes no absolutely sense,” says Fitzmaurice – in spite of the fact Cowen has not said people should be free to waste supplies. 

He grumbles, “where are we going to get the 10 billion Euro that we need to spend on the system into the future?” His statement does not identify the ‘bookkeeper’ who came up with that figure or the period to which the €10 billion relates. It rings fanciful, especially so if the service were to be operated efficiently and with just the required number of workers on board.

He states that as an opposition TD he will not be popular for saying what he has said “but I cannot stand by and allow a situation to come about where water can be wasted willy nilly without someone having to pay for it.”

He is, of course, free to agree with himself. But it is the people who will decide, and in street protests, they have already spoken and demonstrated in the hundreds of thousands that charges or metering on any account is out of the question.

Cllr. Tommy MacSharry, Fianna Fail

Meanwhile, over in Sligo, Fianna Failer Tommy MacSharry has locked horns with his Fine Gael colleague Tony McLoughlin over which party introduced water charges.

As it happens, McLoughlin is correct, Fianna Fail were the instigators of the water charges when they agreed to roll out the levies in a pact with the Troika. Fianna Fail also agreed to establish what is now the Irish Water utility. As well, the party hammered rural dwellers with provisions for water charges when charges for water had been abolished in town and cities of the country. They also went on to press Sligo County Council to meter the water supplies of rural group water users – and to charge for the meters.  

Tony McLoughlin, TD,
Fine Gael, Sligo-Leitrim

Obviously, Fine Gael are not entirely blameless. They implemented the charges and metering which Fianna Fail signed up to in the deal with the Troika. No kudos, therefore, are owed to either lot. Additionally, both parties in government have played a huge part in busting the balls of the rural economy.

Farmers granted nearly €700,000 in fodder aid scheme

Compensation made following flooding loss or damage to animal feed.

Sligo News File Online.

Hundreds of farmers were granted payments under the 2015/16 fodder aid scheme. The supports followed applications from stock owners where animal feeds were damaged or lost owing to flooding.

 

Some 330 applicants received a total of €666,469.70. Galway, with 83 applicants secured €164,387.50 of the overall allocation.

 

  Number of Applications received Not Valid under Fodder Aid Number of applications paid Amount Paid
Carlow       1           1           0 0.00
Cavan       4           0           4 5,575.00
Clare       22           3           19 46,938.00
Cork       14           4           10 16,250.00
Donegal       8           4           4 1,925.00
Dublin       0             0 0.00
Galway       96           13           83 164,387.50
Kerry       11           2           9 27,295.00
Kildare       0             0 0.00
Kilkenny       3           0           3 1,950.00
Laois       4           3           1 1,625.00
Leitrim       8           1           7 4,675.00
Limerick       3           2           1 750.00
Longford       13           1           12 23,865.00
Louth       0             0 0.00
Mayo       59           7           52 68,510.00
Meath       0             0 0.00
Monaghan       1           0           1 1,500.00
Offaly       25           2           23 36,855.00
Roscommon       65           9           56 120,760.00
Sligo       6           0           6 11,975.00
Tipperary       5           3           2 1,440.00
Waterford       5           2           3 12,119.20
Westmeath       37           3           34 118,075.00
Wexford       0             0 0.00
Wicklow       0             0 0.00
Totals       390           60           330 666,469.70

 

Thousands of farmers found breaching nitrate provisions

Penalties avoidable by respecting approved measures.

Sligo News File Online.

Nearly 2,000 herd owners were hit with penalties for breaches of the nitrate directive in 2015.

Michael Creed, TD, Fine Gael. Minister for Agriculture

Figures for 2016 are not yet available, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said.

Responding to questions, Creed he said the total contraventions in 2015 ran to 1,968.

Measures farmers could observe to avoid the penalties he said were:

– Applying for a derogation;

– Renting additional land;

– Reducing livestock numbers;

– Exporting slurry/farmyard manure

His Department, he said has put significant effort into trying to reduce the number of these penalties, including:

– Text messaging of farmers during the year with the up-to-date position vis a vis the limits,

– Interim statement on N available on-line during the year.

– Telephone helpline for advisors and farmers,

– Work ongoing with a behavioural economist ( ESRI) Fodder Crisis.”