Report playing 'Russian roulette' with our future
Published 14/03/2012 | 06:00
Isn't it great that this winter will go down in the history books for all the right reasons? Little did we think this time last year, as we struggled to recover from a record-breaking cold spell, that just 12 months later we would be looking at a countryside covered by a rich coat of green grass.
All we must hope for now is a spell of dry weather that will allow all this early grass to be fully utilised. Unfortunately, things don't always work out as we would like.
I remember one April, a number of years ago, when I let my cattle out onto fresh paddocks which had a beautiful cover of grass, only to see some of these paddocks literally turn brown overnight as a result of severe poaching resulting from an extended period of very wet weather.
This recent spell of weather has also helped greatly in the spreading of slurry. Combined with a few days of soft rain, the response to the slurry has been phenomenal. Fields that were grazed up until Christmas are now looking as though they have not been grazed since last October.
I have also spread some lime on a section of my farm where I felt the cattle hadn't done so well last year. I am hoping that this will help to prevent a repeat of the disappointment I experienced with the final load of beef I sold last autumn.
I recently attended a conference run by the Agricultural Science and the Agricultural Consultants' associations. How refreshing it was to hear prominent economist Colm McCarthy spell out in simple language the situation which the country now finds itself in.
According to newspaper reports, this refreshing form of frankness was once again in evidence at a follow-up ASA/ACA conference held in Carrick-On- Shannon. This time the speaker was a member of the meat processing sector.
It's unbelievable that it takes some plain talking from a person involved in the processing sector to warn us of the dangers of policies currently being promoted by some State agencies. To emphasise the severity of the problem, his warning about lack of outlets for bull beef has since been repeated by a prominent Bord Bia spokesperson who worryingly spoke of having already received complaints from foreign customers about Irish bull beef.