‘Processors showing a complete lack of respect for efforts of producers.’
Sligo News File
Beef plants have come under file over, it’s claimed, “putting downward pressure on prices this week.”
Beef chairman of the ICSA Edmond Phelan said processors were
showing “a complete lack of respect for the efforts of producers who are left in an increasingly vulnerable position as far as future viability goes.
“At the very minimum we need another 20c/kg to keep things going.
“Winter finishers also need a winter bonus, in line with the winter milk bonus, to cover the huge costs involved.”
Stating that if factories are serious about winter finishing, he said “there has to be an incentive to feed cattle over a long winter.
“This year in particular has proven particularly expensive so far with cattle being housed early and the looming fodder crisis means that all bought-in feed will be expensive for the rest of the winter period.
“We also see that demand for beef across Europe is improving and that UK production levels are slipping.
“Winter finishing is not viable with falling prices especially when market conditions are favourable for paying a better price at this time.
“We know there is no lack of profitability in the beef processing sector,” he added
No comittment on aid for meal vouchers or transport of straw.
Sligo News File.
The absence of a “conclusive announcement” on a transport subsidy for fodder has been described as “a disappointment.”
Sligo Chairman of the ICSA Gabriel Gilmartin said that “despite recent soundings to the contrary, regrettably no announcement on a transport subsidy was forthcoming today.”
Commenting following a meeting of the Fodder Action Group in Sligo this afternoon, he also spoke of his disappointment “that no concession on the provision of meal vouchers was forthcoming either.
“ICSA is seeking meal vouchers as they are a critical component in alleviating the crisis. ICSA is arguing that meal vouchers can offer a better value solution than transporting fodder across the country at huge cost. These would have to be in the order of €40 per tonne and must be central to any solution.”
He said there was further concern with indications from Department officials present at the meeting that the transport of straw wouldn’t be subsidised, something which has
“compounded the difficulties.”
The ICSA will, however, continue to press for transport subsidies for straw as well as hay and silage as a matter of urgency,” he added
‘Source fodder for farmers in border and western regions struggling
with weather related shortages immediate priority of association’
Sligo News File
Wexford suckler and sheep farmer Patrick Kent has been returned as president of the ICSA for a third term.
Speaking following his election in Portlaoise Mr. Kent said the immediate priority of his association “is to get fodder to farmers in border and western regions struggling with weather related shortages.
He said: “ICSA is actively sourcing fodder to help and is also pushing for Government assistance in the form of transport subsidies and meal vouchers.
“Further down the line, Mercosur and CAP reform will be critical issues in 2018.
Commenting on the threat posed by climate change, he spoke of the
need to turn the debate “towards policies which recognise the
potentially positive contribution of farmers in terms of more
renewables and recognising increased efficiencies in minimising
emissions and proper accounting of sequestration.”
He has pledged to “continue to fight against unfair inspection penalties and insist on payment on time for all schemes.”
Current ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock was
narrowly defeated in the campaign for the presidency.
Departure of Britain ‘will leave €12bn hole in EU finances’
Cabinet go ahead for Ireland to join new EU army
Sligo News File.
Farmers may have to contribute toward their CAP entitlements if Brussels decides to force Ireland and other states to fill the EU budget shortfall arising out of the UKs withdrawal from the EU.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has reportedly said the departure of Britain from the Union would leave a €12bn gap in the EU budgets.
According to the Independent, he said that calls by some Member States to strengthen security, defence and migration spend could put increased pressure on CAP funds.
The report quotes him as stating that “To fulfil a budget the EU would have to ask Member States to contribute more of gross national income from the current 1pc.
“If they decided to increase that from 1pc to 1.1pc or 1.2pc as the Budget Commissioner has been asking, that helps enormously in filling the gap in our resources.”
Ireland is currently a net contributor to the EU Budget.
In 2014 farmers and other Irish taxpayers handed over €168m more to the EU than the State received in grants and payments.
Meanwhile, the Government has sparked fury after apparently voting to engage Ireland in a new European Army.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is reported to have stated it as his view that “a Europe that is worth building is a Europe that is worth defending.”
However, there are indications that the Government could face a constitutional challenge over the involvement of the Irish people in the EU military alliance – the Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence or PESCO.
The plan for an EU army is provided for in Article 42.6 of the Treaty on the European Union which was carried into effect by the Treaty of Lisbon on which the Irish electorate was forced to vote twice.
The Treaty initially was rejected mostly out of fear it would pave the way for ‘neutral’ Ireland to be forced to participate in an EU military force of the kind to which it’s believed the cabinet has now given the green light and conscription.
Some 56% of women voted against the Lisbon first time round.
Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit/Solidarity has accused the Government of “pulling a fast one” and warned that the opposition might challenge the move on constitutional grounds.
Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace said if Ireland joins the EU military force it will be the final nail in the coffin of Irish neutrality.
‘Funding for supports to allow older people stay at home best value for money and the option people and their families would choose.’
Sligo News File.
A change in the means test would enable people in need of care to be looked after at home. So claims Sligo TD Marc MacSharry who has said the current programme is costing the State around €1,000 weekly in fair deal costs or €1,000 daily for an acute bed.
These costs, he said: “could be vastly reduced if proper supports
were put in place to allow people be cared for at home.
“Funding to allow older people stay at home provides not only the best value for money but is also the option that most older people and their families would choose.”
He stated that last week he questioned “the Secretary General of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection at the Public Accounts Committee, on whether any research had been conducted on the potential benefit of loosening or relaxing the means test for the Carer’s Allowance, which, together with the provision of a medical card, some home help hours and perhaps a housing adaptation grant, might help to afford people the dignity of staying at home. Remarkably he admitted that the matter had never been investigated.”
MacSharry said he was now pressuring the Minister of Health, the Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection, and the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform “to come together and explore the possibility of coming up with a package of supports designed to assist older people who wished to be cared for in their own environment.”
‘Chronically low’ fodder levels in border counties.
Resounding demand for the immediate introduction of subsidy and distribution of meal vouchers to worst affected.
Sligo News File.
A strongly supported ICSA meeting in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan on Tuesday night witnessed “huge anger” over the reluctance of the Government to act on calls to roll out a scheme to aid farmers in areas where atrocious weather conditions have wreaked havoc on fodder harvesting.
Commenting on “the anger of those present,” president of the ICSA Patrick Kent said it was clear from the meeting that farmers “are under pressure” and that immediate action is needed on the fodder crisis.
He said, “ICSA has been sourcing fodder from the Southern half of the country to distribute to those most in need. From the information we have gathered tonight, the need for fodder in this region is immense.”
Stressing that the efforts of the association will continue, he said: “a transport subsidy needs to be introduced as a matter of urgency as does a system of distributing meal vouchers to those worst affected.”
ICSA Cavan chairman Hugh Farrell said, “Fodder levels are chronically low due to the atrocious weather conditions we experienced in the border counties during the autumn months.
“It is imperative we get to grips with the situation now.”
He underlined that the mission of the ICSA “is to assist as many local farmers as possible.”
A presentation by nutritionist Emmet Duffy of AW Ennis attracted keen interest. He proposed that the Government should subsidise products “such as alfalfa, lucerne or straw pellets which would be ideal for inclusion in fodder stretcher mixes.
“A subsidy of €50/ton could make a decisive difference. These products can provide an efficient alternative to the high cost of transporting bales which are scarce anyway.”
Mr. Kent observed that “We have to look for smart and efficient solutions which can be delivered at short notice. It’s time for shoulders to be put to the wheel and deliver these practical solutions without delay.”
‘Monumental folly to allow 70,000 tons or more of extra South American beef into the EU when we have no idea what the trading arrangements will be between the UK and Europe.’
Sligo News File
ICSA president Patrick Kent has slammed the EU Commission for “selling out the European beef sector in Mercosur talks” at “the worst possible time due to the uncertainty around markets as a result of Brexit.”
Speaking following a meeting with the EU chief Mercosur negotiator Sandra Gallina in Brussels yesterday, Mr Kent explained that Brexit put a huge question mark over the 270,000 tons of beef exported to the UK each year.
He said “It is monumental folly to allow 70,000 tons or more of extra South American beef into the EU at a time when we have no idea what the trading arrangements will be between the UK and Europe.
“Obviously, the importance of trade with the UK is especially significant to Ireland. However, while it may be Ireland’s problem today, it will be Europe’s problem tomorrow because any interference with free trade between Ireland and the UK could lead to some or all of our current 270,000 tons being displaced onto other EU markets.”
The ICSA president, along with ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch, were in attendance at a briefing hosted by Ms.Gallina for all sectors which are interested in Mercosur including car manufacturers, financial services and food and drink. While Gallina accepted that the Irish beef sector was especially sensitive, she admitted that “every effort was being made to do a deal.”
Mr. Kent said “it is clear that the EU is willing to sacrifice the EU beef sector in return for potential gains for the car and financial services sector.
The ICSA, he added “is now calling on the Taoiseach to make a further very strong intervention with the Commission president Jean Claude Juncker on behalf of the beef sector.
“We need to have a strong alliance with France against this deal. It is unacceptable that 100,000 livestock farmers in Ireland will pay a disproportionate price.”
The ICSA also called into question “the coherence of the EU on climate change when this deal will displace local beef with beef imported from thousands of miles away and which is causing destruction of rain forest in South America.
“The emissions from transporting beef from the opposite side of the globe and the destruction of forests are ignored in this trade deal. Similarly, the proposals to import ethanol fly in the face of the EU position on reducing crop based ethanol in Europe. Worst of all is the fact that the EU seem to be content to ignore the appalling breaches of food safety standards that occurred in Brazil earlier this year.
“It is very hard to take the EU seriously when we see such double standards,” said Mr. Kent.
‘Two thirds of Irish farming families affected by crime relating to their farming enterprise.’
‘Many in rural Ireland have little confidence in how Garda Siochana and judicial system are tackling the issue.’
Sligo News File.
ICSA president Patrick Kent has said the issue of agricultural crime is a far bigger issue than official Garda statistics would suggest. Mr Kent was speaking following the release of the third and final report from ICSA’s National Agricultural Crime Survey undertaken in conjunction with the Waterford Institute of Technology.
He said, “We now know that that two thirds of Irish farming families have been affected by crime relating to their farming enterprise and that many in rural Ireland have little confidence in how An Garda Siochana and the judicial system are tackling the issue.
“The general perception is that reporting crime is futile; there are inadequate resources to get convictions and even when convictions are secured, repeat offenders are getting off far too lightly.”
The chairman of the association’s rural development committee Seamus Sherlock said, “ICSA has provided proof that agricultural crime is hitting farmers’ pockets at a time when most are struggling to make ends meet at all. Financially it’s wreaking havoc, not to mention the stress and emotional impact these crimes have.
“We cannot accept crime as part and parcel of life in rural Ireland. As a result of the startling findings of the survey, ICSA is committed to bringing the issue of rural crime to the top of the political agenda.
Mr. Sherlock went on to call on the farming communiy to report all instances of crime to the Gardaí even if they cannot see any immediate benefit from doing so. “The figures revealed in this crime survey need to be reflected in official Garda statistics so the scale of the problem can be recognised and appropriate resources put in place,” he said
The ICSA survey was devised by Dr Kathleen Moore Walsh, a lecturer in Law and Criminology and Louise Walsh, a lecturer in Accounting and Finance, both from the Waterford Institute. The study examines crimes that occur solely on farms or relating to farming activities.
Findings of the third report indicate that 45% of respondents did not report instances of agricultural crime to the Gardaí. The reasons given for choosing not to report a crime are as follows:
i. “Waste of time,” “no point” and/or “too much hassle;”
ii. No action taken by Gardaí when reported a previous theft incident(s);
iii. No prosecution arose from previous theft incident(s) reported;
iv. Asset(s) previously reported stolen were not recovered;
v. Unsure when asset(s) was stolen;
vi. Gardaí would be unlikely to trace the thief and/or the stolen assets;
vii. Believed value and/or quantity of asset(s) stolen was not significant enough to warrant reporting;
viii. Knew the person(s) involved in the theft;
ix. Farmer dealt with the theft him/herself;
x. Fear of retribution;
xi. Garda station closed (either permanently or at the time when wanted to report the theft incident); and
xii. No local Garda with knowledge of the area and/or community.
The report also suggests that the level of recovery of stolen assets is as low as just 8%. Respondents recorded that less assets were recovered ‘by Gardai’ than by ‘other than Gardaí’. One of the most significant reasons recorded for not reporting an agricultural crime incident to Gardaí possibly centred on the farmers dealing with the crime themselves.
Continuing Mr Sherlock said, “We are witnessing the whole fabric of rural society being decimated with farmers feeling more and more isolated and side-lined. Nobody should have to live in a state of constant fear and anxiety as a result of feeling under siege due to lack of Garda resources. Worse still is that farmers are expected to fund expensive deterrents such as electric gates and security cameras.
“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.
He added that he report was “hugely important as determining the costs of agricultural crime provides the justification for spending scarce resources on tackling the issue.”