Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 11 December 2016

Viewpoint: Politicians will hear some hard truths at this week's Ploughing

Published 22/09/2015 | 02:30

Alan Gee and Liam Geoghegan spreading bark on the Glanbia stand in preparation for the National Ploughing Championships 2015 at Ratheniska, Co. Laois
Alan Gee and Liam Geoghegan spreading bark on the Glanbia stand in preparation for the National Ploughing Championships 2015 at Ratheniska, Co. Laois

Tens of thousands of people will be leaving their homes at dawn today to make a beeline for Ratheniska and the annual gathering that is National Ploughing Championships.

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The Ploughing is usually a convivial affair, with many in holiday mode after a busy few months on the farm.

It's a chance to catch-up with friends, old and new, and also an opportunity to window shop all the latest farm gadgets and machinery.

As my Grandad was fond of saying, 'It doesn't cost anything to look.' Whether he was talking about shopping or not, we were never quite certain.

Among the machinery aficionados, and those just enjoying a day out, there'll be a lesser spotted species that is often more commonly encountered during the run-in to an election.

It will be hard to escape the whiff of a General Election in the air and there will be plenty of politicians pressing the flesh and gauging the mood of the farming sector.

Compared to this time last year, the mood in the beef sector is relatively positive, while the sheep sector has enjoyed a more stable summer.

It's a different story altogether in tillage and dairy.

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Yields are strong despite mixed weather conditions across the country, but tillage farmers have received poor harvest returns from cereals, while dairy farmers have seen their prices slashed by a third compared with the highs of last summer.

With tax and superlevy bills looming in the next few weeks, as well as higher debt payments for those who have borrowed to expand, many in the dairy sector will be paying close attention to just how the €13.7m in EU aid announced last week will be distributed.

There have been suggestions in recent days that the aid will take the form direct payments or be linked to milk supply.

The hardy annual issue of prices aside, there is another matter that politicians can expect to encounter at the Ploughing and on the doorsteps - the rise of rural crime and concerns over cattle rustling.

It's no longer just a case of late night break-ins. Audacious mid-afternoon robberies are leaving people uneasy that they are being watched and targeted by criminals.

Farm leaders are obviously concerned and are demanding action to ensure people in rural Ireland, and urban areas too, feel safe in their homes

The Irish Independent and Farming Independent has been visiting communities to see the impact and talk with victims of crime.

If you'd like to have your say on what needs to be done, call by our stand at 2pm today where we'll be hosting a special discussion on rural crime.

Indo Farming



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