Category Archives: Farming

Meat factories cutting price in one of the worst ever years for beef producers

‘Beyond belief meat industry would seek to increase profits on the backs of farmers.’

‘Time for…fight back.

‘Meat industry cannot be allowed to drive farmers out of business.’

Sligo News File.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association has protested outside ABP over what they have denounced as “an orchestrated effort” by meat factories to drive down prices being paid to beef farmers.

“Farmers in the beef sector have been crucified by beef price cuts in a year when they have substantial extra costs due to extreme weather,” said the chairman of the association’s national beef committee chairman Edmund Graham.

He said: “It is beyond belief that in a year like this when farmers are on their knees with extra cost arising from a fodder crisis that the meat industry would seek to increase profits on the back of farmers.

Orchestrated effort to drive down price

Referring to what he described as “an orchestrated effort to drive down price at a rate of 5c/kg/week,”, he said “the current price of €3.70/kg is totally inadequate when costs

of production are at least €4.40/kg for cattle from the dairy herd. Meanwhile, the suckler herd is not profitable unless price is closer to €5/kg.”

Declaring it was time for farmers to fight back, he said: “We cannot go on working for nothing and risking substantial capital finishing cattle especially as we enter the expensive winter finishing period.”

He also hit out at the failure of new international markets to deliver strong prices for the farming sector. “Compared to five years ago we have seen the opening of markets in the USA, China, South East Asia and this week Kuwait. Yet there has been no benefit to farmers and prices today are weaker than five years ago.

“Meat factories and retailers love to talk about sustainable systems of beef production. ICSA believes that unless cattle farmer incomes are economically sustainable, all the rest is just pie in the sky.

Meat factories using their own feedlots to manipulate price

“The meat industry cannot be allowed drive farmers out of business. ICSA believes it is an unacceptable element of the sector that meat factories are using their own feedlots to manipulate price. The price cutting is also a way of subduing store cattle price with a view to getting cheaper cattle for their own feedlots.

“ICSA is sending out a strong message that farmers cannot stand idly by as their livelihoods are being decimated.

“Further action cannot be ruled out,” he warned.

Merger of Lakeland and LacPatrick would make operation second largest dairy co-operative in Ireland

Shareholders to vote on move at the end of the month.

Sligo News File

Lakeland and LacPatrick dairies are about to merge, according to BBC Northern Ireland.

It’s reported that the move is being backed by the boards of both co-operatives with the proposal now set to be placed before shareholders for a vote at the end of
the month.

A final decision will be subject to regulatory approval.

The proposed new co-operative would trade under the name Lakeland Dairies.

Billion euro turnover

If approved, the merger, says the broadcaster, would make the operation Ireland’s second largest dairy co-operative, with a supplier base of more than 3,000 dairy farmers, and a combined annual turnover of over €1 billion.

According to a report by Shannonside FM News, former president of the ICMSA Pat O’Rourke has meanwhile stated that he believes the proposed merger makes perfect sense. O’Rourke, says the report, also believes that it’s only a matter of time before Aurivo and Lakeland will merge.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association protest over beef prices at ABP Clones

‘Factories have refused to engage in a meaningful way at the roundtable.’

Sligo News File.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association is to mount a major protest at ABP in Clones, Co. Monaghan, as processors continue to hammer beef farmers with price cuts.

Edmund Graham, chair, ICSA Beef Committee

A notice issued by the Association states that the protest is being staged at ABP commencing at 7am tomorrow, Friday, 5 October.

Chairman of ICSA beef committee Edmund Graham said the Association did not attend the Beef Forum early this week “owing to the lack of solidarity shown by processors to beef producers.

‘Farmers are on their knees’

“Never has this lack of solidarity been more evident than in the last few weeks.

“Farmers are on their knees, anger is mounting and factories have refused to engage with us in a meaningful way at the roundtable,” he added.

Allow valuers do their job on valuation of TB reactors says ICSA

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.

He said:

“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.”

Impact of fodder crisis on farmer health to be discussed at ICSA anniversary dinner

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. 

President of the ICSA Patrick Kent.

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.






Welcome for multi-million euro fodder measure

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.

Patrick Kent, president, ICSA

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.”

ICSA chief welcomes Hogan’s comments on drought assistance

‘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.

Patrick Kent, president ICSA

He said:

“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.”

Farm body urges ‘patience and extreme caution’ in safety warning to road users and agri community.

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.

Seamus Sherlock, Chair, ICSA Rural Development Committee.

“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.