‘Market panic has already impacted the price of beef; we cannot allow this uncertainty to continue.’
Sligo News File.
ICSA national president Patrick Kent has said the Government must be forthcoming with details of the emergency aid it intends to seek for the beef sector from the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Kent was addressing Minister Michael Creed and members of the ICSA National Executive at ICSA’s AGM and Annual Conference in Portlaoise on Thursday.
Beef on the Brink formed the theme of the conference and Mr Kent focused on the need for clarity on the nature and scope of the emergency aid that can be expected should a no-deal Brexit come to pass.
“Market panic has already impacted the price of beef and we cannot allow this uncertainty to continue. Farmers have been operating in a vacuum while factories have been taking advantage,” he said.
Mr Kent called on the Minister for a “backstop for beef.” He said ICSA supports the call for emergency EU measures to take out our surplus beef via intervention or aids to private storage but the lack of clarity is causing panic around what price beef will be in 2019.
“We need a commitment to put a realistic floor under the price of beef with a trigger price that ensures that current prices cannot be allowed to fall any further.”
Mr Kent said the days of supermarkets and processors exploiting farmers based on false costs of production must also end. A recent assessment of the cost of production per kg of beef shows the average cost to be in the range of €5 to €5.30. “These figures bring a sense of reality to the discussion by including a rate for the farmer’s labour.
“There is no other industry where the cost of production ignores basic labour costs and we will no longer countenance Teagasc pontificating on the cost of production unless they have included the cost of farmers’ own labour.”
Mr Kent also said that the time has come for a comprehensive review of the beef grid. “We want it simplified, more straightforward. When a farmer sends cattle to the factory, they need clarity, not confusion on what each beast will make. We want to see better bonuses for U grade cattle and this should be paid for by higher penalties on P grade cattle. All O grade cattle should qualify for QA bonus as should quality cows and young bulls, but not P grade cattle of any category.”
“An examination of the actual costs of production per kg of beef illustrates that buying P or O grade calves when beef price is at €3.75 for R grades is completely unviable. This is why we believe that the dairy expansion must be re-evaluated and the only rational conclusion for the beef sector is that we need to reduce production. We need to do this to cut costs and to make product scarcer and we need to keep going down the road of reducing production until price cuts are reversed.
“We also must do much more to help live exports. ICSA wants to see every effort made to assist live exporters. Huge state efforts have been put into supporting new markets for beef but there must be a full commitment to doing the same for live exports. We need to ensure that there is no red tape hindering the live export trade.
“We also need a strategy to market suckler beef as a premium niche product, grass-fed and distinct from grain fed feedlot beef. We cannot condone the Taoiseach of the country saying he is reducing his meat consumption on health or climate change grounds. These arguments are spurious and Ireland, as one of the world’s leading exporters of beef and a significant producer of lamb cannot allow this propaganda to go unchecked.
“At ICSA, we believe that CAP reform will have to reflect the fact that no livestock production system is profitable at the moment and for that reason, we need to return to the idea of extensification as a pillar of CAP payments. ICSA also supports capping payments with no loophole for employees on industrial farms because the CAP must support family farms first and foremost.
New Pillar 2 Scheme
“We also want to see a Pillar 2 scheme where we have an agri-environment scheme that looks a lot more like REPS and a lot less like GLAS. In short, we want Pillar 2 schemes that mean that the farmer who participates can see a real benefit over the farmer that doesn’t.
Mr Kent said he was pleased to see that the Department has finally taken action on the issue of carcass trim supervision. He said however that, “Now it is also time to ensure the exact same scrutiny in sheep meat plants. ICSA has raised concerns that there are different kill out rates being reported in different sheep factories and we need the same Department scrutiny for the sheep sector as the beef sector.”
Mr Kent welcomed the publication of an organic strategy highlighted the need for a much more ambitious strategy to better market our organic meats and capitalise much
more on the potential.
He said ICSA is fully opposed to making the TB history available on mart boards and will remain committed to this position at the TB stakeholder forum.
Mr Kent reiterated the association’s stance that a stronger line on rural crime is needed and that the Government get to grips with escalating insurance costs which is a real problem for all businesses including farmers and marts.
People fear a drink will drive them over the permitted blood alcohol limit.
Sligo News File.
People are afraid to have a drink in pubs in case it will push them over the safe driving limit.
So says publican John Duignan of the Tally Ho pub in Longford.
Duignan claims that figures used by Ross, the Transport Minister in assessing the extent alcohol are a factor in road crashes are incorrect.
He also points out that as a result of the regulations as introduced, customers visiting public houses on weekends are fearful that taking a drink will drive them over the
permitted blood alcohol level.
Publicans report that the licensed trade is being severely affected by the new measures.
Cryptosporidium is back in South Sligo’s public water supply. The parasite has seemingly either managed to dodge the extensive sampling and scouring works carried out under the direction of Irish Water less than a year ago or has newly arrived from some outside source.
In any event, its unwelcome presence is affecting a swathe of areas serviced by the Lough Talt and Ogham schemes.
Places named on Sligo County Council’s website include Curry, Killoran, Carrowcushely, Glenn-Kinnagrelly, Carrownacarrick, Kilmacteige, Bellahy, Achonry, Talt-Castleoye Trunk, Aclare, Tobercurry, Kesh, Achonry-Ballymote Trunk, Moylough, Templehouse, Ballymote, Muckelty, Rockfield, Annagh, Oldrock, Cloonacool, Quaryfield, Banada, Killavel, Branchfield-Collooney and, in Mayo, Cloontia, Quarryfield and Doocastle.
People taking their drinking supply from the schemes are being warned to boil the water.
The parasite is a nasty affair that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Symptoms include watery diarrhoea, dehydration, lack of appetite, stomach cramps or pain, fever, nausea, vomiting.
As the parasite is protected by an outer shell it very tolerant to chlorine disinfection. It is especially dangerous for young children, immunocompromised individuals and the elderly.
Anyone suffering from diarrhoea for more than two days should contact their general practitioner, says the council.
So, what has happened that last year’s scouring of the waters has failed to prevent the parasite showing up 11 months later? Is it of human or animal origin? The council’s website does not provide the answers.
Councillors are heard to be complaining, with one even saying planning permission must be pursued for the provision of a new plant. All well and good, of course, but isn’t there some problem to do with the site of an EU protected snail population in the vicinity of the Talt?
Between the snails and the parasite then, it looks that the entire region of householders and businesses will have to suffer on yet again.
Not good enough by any measure.
What can be expected, however, is that TD’s will now come under pressure to have government get off their arses and finally deal with the ridiculous long-time danger to public health in the region.
People are advised to look up the county council website for more information surrounding the boil notices and the measures those reliant on the Talt and Ogham water schemes are being urged to observe.
‘Rotten and stinking deal done by the Irish Postmasters Union’ – McGrath.
Sligo News File
The virtual wipeout of the post office network continues to generate heated debate in the Dail where last night a Donegal TD lashed the “deceitful way” in which the rural service is being killed off.
Pat the Cope Gallagher said 17 of the post offices in his county are currently earmarked for closure. “There was no commercial analysis, no economic analysis and no rural proofing.”
Closure of the offices will mean “people will have to walk or cycle or perhaps use public transport, if it is available. I refer to 15 km.
“The people of rural Ireland, and particularly the people of my county, have been conned by this Government.
“I came in here with others, and we voted unanimously on an amendment to provide a public service obligation, PSO, for those rural areas. What has the Government done? It has ignored it.”
Calling it “a very sad day,” he also strongly criticised the absence of Communications minister, Richard Bruton from the Dail.
“If the Minister has a duplication of business, it means this is less important than the business he is now attending to. To us this is the most important business being discussed in this House today. It is a total insult to us as Deputies and to rural Ireland that this is being done. It is just not good enough. We are not prepared to accept this.
“We are looking for the Minister to meet a representative cross-party group of Deputies to discuss this matter and the associated protocols.”
“I ask the Minister of State, Deputy Canney, to confirm tonight that the Minister will meet that group of rural Deputies.”
Deputy Mattie McGrath dismissed a reply from Minister of State Sean Canney as “balderdash.” He said: “This is a rotten and stinking deal done by the Irish Postmasters Union, IPU. Who gave it any mandate to close post offices? I salute all the postmasters and postmistresses. More power to any of them who took the redundancy as they are entitled to it. Park that first of all. It did not give the IPU the right to negotiate away services from my village in Newcastle in Tipperary or the other five villages in Tipperary
losing their post offices. The Minister would not even come in here, which demonstrates his disdain.
“I have written to the four Fianna Fáil Deputies, including Deputy Michael McGrath, who are renegotiating the confidence and supply agreement. If Fianna Fáil cares about rural Ireland, with the Government it will prioritise these post offices and disband this cabal of people on a so-called independent inquiry team. Its members had neither the manners nor the respect to write back to our committee in Newcastle, which has gone about its work diligently and honestly.
Acting Chairman Deputy Eugene Murphy: The Deputy has gone way over his time.
McGrath: “The Minister must act. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael must keep these post offices open. If that does not happen they should call an election and go to the country so the people can make a decision rather than a cabal of so-called independent people with a rotten and stinking deal that the union negotiated behind people’s back.”
Canney said he couldn’t make a commitment on behalf of the Minister (Bruton) “but I will bring to him the Deputies’ request to meet an all-party delegation.
It is believed that Fianna Fail has refused to add Sligo councillor Joe Queenan to its party ticket to contest the 2019 local elections.
Enniscrone-based Queenan, a long-time member of the party, and a former chairman of Sligo County Council featured with two other councillors in the RTÉ Investigates Standards in Public Office programme in December 2015 following which he was called before the Standards in Public Office Commission public hearings earlier this year. He resigned from Fianna Fail.
The outcome of the SIPOC enquiries is not yet known. One of the three councillors has reportedly taken a High Court action against RTE.
Queenan was this year elected chairman of the Ballymote-Tobercurry Municipal District.
He is said to have indicated that pending the conclusion of the SIPOC process he intends to run as an Independent local elections candidate.
‘Continued objective is to ensure that the implications for fisheries are fully taken account of throughout the negotiations.’
Sligo News File.
Questioned by Sligo TD, Tony McLoughlin about the efforts being made to safeguard the Irish fishing industry in the context of Brexit, Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Michael Creed said the key priorities for Ireland will be “the maintenance of current access to fishing grounds in the UK zone in the Irish Sea, the Celtic Sea and north of Donegal.” The protection of Ireland’s existing quota shares will also be a priority.
Creed said his continued objective is to ensure that the implications for fisheries are fully taken account of throughout the negotiations for a future EU-UK relationship.
“In recent months, I have continued to have positive, regular meetings with my European colleagues, especially those from the group of 8 Member States whose fisheries are most impacted by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. I am also working closely with key
stakeholders in the Irish fishing industry and am pleased at the level of unity on these key issues. The results of my engagement with the
Barnier Task Force, in close collaboration with the Tánaiste, are evident in the agreed EU position on fisheries.”
He added that the actual agreement on a future relationship could only be finalised and concluded “once the UK has become a third country, that is after it leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. This is why a status quo transitional arrangement is so important. Of course, it is in the interest of everyone that a future relationship agreement is concluded as quickly as possible after the UK leaves the EU to provide certainty sooner rather than later.
“I would like to assure the Deputy that, working together with the
Tánaiste and his team and the Barnier Task Force, I will continue to
work to ensure that negotiations on fisheries remain inextricably linked to the overall future relationship negotiations in order to protect our existing access rights and quota entitlements.”
‘How can an act that suppresses innocent and defenceless life as it blossoms be therapeutic, civil or simply human?’
Condemnation comes as Irish government earmarks millions of euros for abortion services.
Sligo News File
As the Irish government earmarks €12 million of its annual budget for abortion services, the Pope has resolutely denounced the destruction of infants in the womb.
During his weekly audience in the Vatican on Wednesday, Francis compared abortion to Mafia-style killing, saying it was the equivalent of hiring a hit man “to take out a human life to solve a problem.”
Urging the faithful not to kill, he said some people justify abortion as respecting other rights, but he asked, “How can an act that suppresses innocent and defenceless life as it blossoms be therapeutic, civil or simply human?”
Attack one of the Pope’s strongest on abortion
The attack is one of the strongest he has made on the killing of innocents in the womb. Five months ago, he likened abortion to avoid birth defects to the Nazi-era of trying to create a pure race.
Wilfully terminating life in the womb flies in the face of teachings of the Catholic Church and is regarded as a grave moral wrongdoing.
Ireland, a Catholic state, last month formally removed a long-time constitutional amendment that protected the unborn, voting by a huge majority to clear the way for mothers to be able to legally kill babies up to twelve weeks of pregnancy and, in some cases, as far on as six months.
In June, Health Minister Harris reportedly said that he was “determined” to do something to prevent people from protesting outside centres where abortion services are offered. However, it’s been argued that the action could lead to a constitutional challenge in the courts.
The government in Britain has categorically rejected calls for the introduction of “buffer zones” barring protests outside abortion clinics across the UK.