Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Ploughing wheeling and dealing masks a lot of problems

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Marita Kelly ho is one of the models in the Macra Na Feirme calendar 2015/2016 in aid of positive mental health at the 2015 National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, County Laois. Photo: Mark Condren
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Marita Kelly ho is one of the models in the Macra Na Feirme calendar 2015/2016 in aid of positive mental health at the 2015 National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, County Laois. Photo: Mark Condren
Crowds at the final day of the Ploughing Championships

A man with a determined look on his face, bag tucked neatly under his arm, was trying to beat a path through the surging tide coming towards him along the main thoroughfare at the Ploughing.

Politely but swiftly he rebutted a query, shouting back over his shoulder: 'Don't you know I've just the one day and I've a tractor to buy.'

Now, most of the purchases at the Ploughing may have been of the smaller variety, but there were also a few big deals being done.

Machinery sales are on the rebound, and there is also a renewed demand for land in auction rooms around the country.

Yet it would appear there is a growing divide between those with easy access to funds and those struggling to pay the bills.

The findings of the Farming Independent survey carried out in the midst of last week's wheelin' and dealin' in Ratheniska raised plenty of interesting issues.

Many respondents stated they were facing higher debt levels this year. That's no surprise given the turbulence in milk and grain markets, not to mention the larger than usual tax bills looming for many next month.

Yet, while much of the attention in recent weeks has been on the hard-pressed dairy and grain sector, our survey also showed that 27pc of suckler farmers reported higher debt levels this year, while a third of sheep farmers also reported that their debts are creeping upwards.


Transparency

There were mixed views on the issue of solar farms. Yet money talks, and many admitted they may be lured into signing up to a solar contract if the price was right.

One of the most clear-cut responses was on the issue of whether the salaries and expenses of farm organisation leaders should be made public.

It is clearly a sore point for farmers with 86pc calling for salaries of senior officials in bodies such as the IFA, ICMSA and ICSA to be revealed.

The matter of transparency often emerges, and it's something we've frequently heard being mentioned particularly when prices are in the doldrums and farmers are at the factory gates.

Just last summer Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the relationship between the meat processors and farmers must be built on transparency.

Farm groups must be left hoarse from calling for transparency on the beef grid, so perhaps it is time that full clarity was offered to members paying their dues throughout the country.

The time has come to clearly display where all funds hail from and where they are spent, including setting out the salaries and bonuses paid to all senior officers.

Indo Farming