Concern that ‘too much subtle pressure being put on valuers to avoid giving the real value of a high calibre cow or heifer.’
Sligo News File.
ICSA Animal Health & Welfare chairman Hugh Farrell has called on the Department to allow valuers to do their job when it comes to the live valuation system for TB reactors.
“When it comes to breeding stock, or animals with show potential, there has to be flexibility in the system to allow valuers to give an honest and true assessment of what an animal is worth. In these cases, average price ranges from thousands of animals sold in marts each week is meaningless.
“ICSA is concerned that too much subtle pressure is being put on valuers to avoid giving the real value of a high calibre cow or heifer. As it stands, the odds are stacked against a farmer who has TB reactors. While the farmer can appeal the valuation, so too can the Department. The panel is selected by the Department in the first case, but we hear stories of valuers being afraid that they will be removed from the panel if they are deemed too favourable to farmers.
“While everybody accepts that valuations should be accurate, it is manifestly the case that some animals, particularly breeding animals, can be worth several hundred euros in excess of the typical price. Penny pinching over this is a pointless exercise in the context of the overall budget because we are only talking about a very small minority of animals. However, where a farmer has spent years breeding livestock and has invested in having the best of stock, it is very upsetting and frustrating to see the Department second guessing experienced valuers. Moreover, the sense that valuers are looking over their shoulders all the time is out there and this is not acceptable.
“Unless there is a strong body of evidence that a valuer is continuously getting it wrong, the Department should accept that at times, there will be stock that are much more valuable than any paper exercise in average values.
“We also need to ensure that compensation for reactors adequately reflects the impact of the loss of the cow. In cases, the cow will be a reactor before the calf is ready for weaning and at the same time, the calf will not be saleable. This will result in a loss of value in the calf which needs to be reflected in the price paid for the cow.”
Fodder crisis and mental health topic of two breakout sessions
Sligo News File.
The ICSA is hosting two sessions on the fodder crisis and mental health ahead of its 25th Anniversary dinner at Hotel Kilkenny on Friday 7th September. Both issues will be the topic of two breakout sessions commencing in the hotel at 6pm.
The Fodder Challenge.
How can farmers deal with the current fodder shortage and winter fodder planning?
Martin Ryan, of the Technical Feed Support division with Glanbia Ireland, will be on hand to discuss technical and planning advice for livestock farmers impacted by the drought. Participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences and ideas on ways to overcome the fodder challenge, and the necessary supports needed.
Sponsored by Gain Nutrition.
Tackling mental wellbeing in the farming community.
Tackle Your Feelings is a mental wellbeing campaign run by Rugby Players Ireland in partnership with Zurich.
This 45-minute session will feature interactive discussion around the specific mental and emotional challenges faced by farmers. It will also offer tips and techniques for proactively improving mental wellbeing, well before any challenge becomes a crisis.
The session will be facilitated by Sport and Performance Psychologist and Tackle Your Feelings Campaign Manager, Créde Sheehy-Kelly.
Sponsored by Zurich.
The Anniversary dinner of the association will follow.
Imported fodder must be of high quality and reasonably priced.
Sligo News File.
ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed the announcement by Minister Creed that €4.25 million has been allocated for the introduction of a Fodder Import Support Measure.
His association, he said, “has been calling for this and other measures to be put in place at the earliest possible point as part of the combined effort required to offset major fodder difficulties down the track.”
He went on to stress that while the ICSA is in favour of importing fodder, it must be of high quality and available at a fair price.
“Vigilance on quality and price towards imported feed must also, he said, “extend to cereals,
“Profit margins on suckler and sheep farms are practically non-existent at this point so if these enterprises are to have any hope of surviving it is imperative that access to quality feed at a reasonable price is secured.
“On home ground, we need to take a sensible approach and allow Low-Input Grassland to be baled, sooner rather than later.”
Concluding Mr Kent impressed upon millers to deliver the best possible value to farmers at this difficult time and reiterated that profiteering by meat plants must not be tolerated,
“It is incumbent on all players to protect the industry as a whole. We will not stand for primary producers being taken advantage of at this vulnerable time.”
‘Commissioner has indicated that support to fix drought problems is possible which includes buying fodder.’
Sligo News File
ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed confirmation by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan that state aid could be provided to deal with the damage caused by the drought and that flexibilities around GLAS rules should be forthcoming.
“ICSA has already called for a hardship fund to help those most affected by the drought, particularly low income cattle and sheep farmers and cereal growers. It is now time for the Minister to take immediate action.
“The Commissioner has indicated that support to fix drought problems is possible which includes buying fodder. He has confirmed that the purchase of fodder can qualify for aid as either material damage or income loss.
“However, this now requires a commitment from the Irish government to put some funding in place. This will be a real test of
whether the government cares about the incredible hardships faced by farmers this year. ICSA is not looking for an open cheque book; we want aid targeted at the most vulnerable farmers in the less profitable sectors.
“ICSA also welcomes the positive response for flexibilities around schemes and derogations from greening requirements. For example, it has already been confirmed by the Commission that there will be derogations from the three crop rule and to allow land lying fallow under ecological focus areas to be used for growing feed.
“ICSA also wants to see farmers to be allowed wrap bales on LIPP areas in GLAS and to have the deadline for spreading fertiliser extended beyond 15 September. We also need flexibility to allow
tillage farmers to sow westerwolds or other Italian ryegrasses which means abolishing the 15 December restriction.”
Make the Bank Holiday weekend ‘a safe and happy time for everyone.’
Sligo News File.
The ICSA has appealed to all road users to be ‘on their guard’ during the Bank holiday weekend as beyond as farm activities intensify.
“It’s a busy time on farms, and there are increased numbers of tractors and other farm machinery using the roads,” the association’s rural development chairman, Seamus Sherlock has warned.
He said that coinciding with the sunny spell and the bank holiday, “patience, as well as extreme caution, must be exercised by everybody using the roads.
“Silage cutting and slurry spreading are in full swing and farms are a hive of activity.”
The ICSA, he said, “is asking farmers to think about safety at all times and never to take unnecessary risks where machinery and equipment are concerned,”
“Slurry gas is also a silent killer and extremely dangerous. Slatted tank agitating points should not be left open for any longer than necessary.
“Farmers also need to be very careful to have proper PTO shafts in place on slurry and silage equipment. It only takes a split second lapse in concentration for accidents to happen, sometimes with tragic and fatal consequences.
“After one of the longest winters in living memory, many farmers are still trying to cope with the financial ramifications and stress associated with dealing with nine months of challenging conditions. It will take more than a few sunny days for farmers who experienced the perfect storm to recover. However, safety must be a priority at all times; it’s a busy time but let’s make it a safe and happy time for everyone,” he added.
Only 4% of €3 million allocation applied for to date.
Sligo News File.
Crime hit rural Ireland is failing to avail of funding for community protecting camera surveillance systems.
The ICSA said money was allocated for CCTV but to date, the take up has been “minuscule.”
A ceremony in Waterford was told that figures released by the Department of Justice show that only 4% of the €3m CCTV funding available has been used.
“Reaching the halfway point in the scheme and with only €120,000 spent indicates a problem somewhere,” said chairman of the ICSA development committee Seamus Sherlock
He said: “An urgent review needs to be carried out at this stage to see how local communities can be further assisted with utilising the scheme.
“Of particular importance is clarification as to whether the Gardaí or local authorities are responsible managing the footage collected.”
Mr. Sherlock was speaking at an event in Waterford Institute of Technology to mark the official handing over of the Agricultural Crime in Ireland reports to the Luke Wadding library. The reports were compiled by Dr Kathleen Moore Walsh, a lecturer in Law and Criminology and Louise Walsh, a lecturer in Accounting and Finance, following the ICSA/WIT Agricultural Crime Survey.
The study examined crimes that occur solely on farms or relating to farming activities.
Mr. Sherlock said the nature and scale of agriculture-specific crime have been well and truly established with the survey and subsequent reports.
“Rural people want more resources in community policing, stiffer sentences for repeat offenders and closer consultation between rural stakeholders, local authorities and An Garda Siochana,” he said.
Measure will cost upwards of €2.5 million per year.
Action taken without consultation with flock owners.
ICSA-led protest at Department of Agriculture later today.
Sligo News File
ICSA is to mount a protest in opposition to the mandatory introduction of EID tagging for all sheep today, Monday 14 May.
ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has said that members of the ICSA sheep committee wish to highlight the mounting anger of sheep farmers against this unnecessary move.
Commenting Mr Brooks said, “The introduction of mandatory EID tagging will cost sheep farmers €2.5m per year. It has been done without warning or consultation at the behest of processors who are the only ones who will benefit. It is unacceptable that sheep farmers should bear all the cost.”
In addition Mr Brooks said, “ICSA is also deeply concerned about the chaotic rollout of the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) for sheep. We are demanding an immediate review of the implementation of the policy.”
The protest will take place at the Department of Agriculture, Kildare St. Dublin and will start at 12.30pm.
‘Damage to Killery forest and Sligo Way most likely accidental.’
Sligo News File.
Fianna Fáil TD Eamon Scanlon has slammed the decision by the Department of Agriculture to slap fines on farmers whose lands were affected by forest fires on Killery mountain last year.
Hundreds of acres of land on Killery mountain were destroyed in forest fires last May, and a section of the Sligo Way was damaged.
The Sligo-Leitrim Deputy has said that despite the fact money was allocated by the Department of Rural and Community Development to carry out repair work to the
boardwalk on the Sligo Way, the Department of Agriculture is continuing to penalise farmers who did not set the fires.
“The situation on Killery mountain is extremely unfair. There are 33 farmers who are being unfairly penalised by the Department of Agriculture, which has itself recognised the fact that these farmers did not set these fires. I raised this issue with Department officials at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture this week and was extremely disappointed at the approach taken by them.
“The Sligo Way has been an extremely successful tourism initiative, bringing hundreds of people to the area, especially during the Sligo Camino, which took place during May last year. Hotels and B&Bs were booked out over the duration of the walking festival, resulting in a much needed economic boost for Sligo and Leitrim. However, farmers are now paying the price.
“It was unseasonably warm for the time of year, and it has been widely acknowledged that the fires were more than likely started accidentally. In fact, there were forest fires burning in Cork, Kerry and Galway during the same period. Despite this, the farmers in Killery are being penalised.
“The treatment of these farmers is appalling. They’re facing fines or penalties for something outside of their control. This is unbelievably unfair. I am calling on Minister Michael Creed to let common sense prevail and to reverse the decision to penalise these farmers.
“Farmers are already under pressure, the fact that they are facing a reduction in their Basic Payment is inexcusable. The Minister needs to intervene – and I will be continuing to raise this issue with him until there is a satisfactory outcome.”