'We need all the farming organisations singing off the same hymn sheet'
Storm Powell travelled to mid-Tipp Mart to hear farmers' views on farm politics, the pressures of early housing and EU proposals to scrap daylight-saving time
"There is too much division between farming organisations," says Martin (28) who is manager of Mid Tipp Mart and also farms in Ballybrista. "We have a number of strong individuals within the organisations and they need to bring all their viewpoints together and build up the strongest negotiating team possible." Martin has begun to house cattle "earlier than hoped for, but the land got wet". In terms of fodder, he says "we have a lot more than last year. It should keep us going until the middle of May". Martin does not see the benefit of changing the clock twice yearly. He asks: "Should we do it individually or collectively within an EU context?"
The Ragg, Thurles
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Joe farms suckler cows on 55ac and is now semi-retired, having ceased off-farm work two years ago. "Breakaway groups are causing a division within farming organisations. Too many groups don't work. Something needs to be done to get better factory prices," says Joe. "We need a strong united voice." Joe's cattle are still out on grass "and hopefully will be until mid-November. I've lots of silage and hay this winter". Joe would welcome the introduction of summer time all year round on a trial basis for three years.
Tom (65) is a full-time, dry stock farmer on 80ac. "Breakaway groups are not a good idea. The recent beef protest was a shambles. It was not well organised, took place at a bad time of year and didn't help anyone. The organisations need to unite." Tom will leave his cattle out for as long as the weather permits, "hopefully till the end of November. And there's no scarcity of feeding this year. We will have enough till next May". Tom favours summer time all year around. "The children no longer walk to school, so the dark mornings are not a threat to them. I'd prefer an extra hour of brightness in the evenings."
Pat is a dairy farmer, milking 50 cows on 60ac near Cashel. He is a member of ICMSA and IFA, and would like to see all the farming organisations "singing off the same hymn sheet". On the recent wet weather, Pat says "the land is getting soft," and he would welcome an extension to the slurry spreading period into November and after mid-January. "This was a good year for fodder and I have plenty of silage. The stock are in by night for the past two weeks in order to extend the grazing season." Pat would welcome an extra hour's brightness in the evening. He works off farm and is not home until after 4.30pm. "It would give me extra time to work before dark." His children are picked up at the gate by a school bus at 9am so, should summer time remain throughout the year, the darker mornings would not cause a problem for them."
Dairy farmer Aengus was selling weanlings at the mart. He farms 58 cows on 80ac. "I don't know if uniting the organisations would work and I can't see it happening," says Aengus, who is a member of both IFA and ICMSA "but two heads are better than one and, together, these two groups would be more powerful." Aengus hasn't housed any stock yet. "The weanlings will stay out for another month and the cows, who are getting silage when they come in at milking time, won't be housed for another three weeks. We have plenty of fodder this winter." On the clock change, he says: "I would prefer summer time all year round. I don't mind the dark in the mornings as it gets bright quickly. But the dark evenings last for the night."
Nicholas and Pat Morrissey
Nicholas (83) is a retired farmer working with his son Pat, who has a sucker herd and keeps bloodstock on 160ac. "The farming organisations are contradicting one another and confusing the farming community. There is too much conflict between them," says Nicholas "They would have more clout and be more respected if they took a unified approach." Pat says: "We are a small country in the context of Europe and need to pool collective thinking and resources. It's important all sectors are considered." "We should have enough grass for another month," they say "and we have plenty of fodder for the winter." Both Nicholas and Pat would like to see summer time all year round.
Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary
PJ, a full-time farmer, has 40 suckler cows on 80ac and is a member of IFA and the Beef Plan Movement. "The farming organisations are fragmented. There are too many divergent views and it's not possible to please everyone. Grass has been exceptionally plentiful this year and though wet, the cattle will stay out for another fortnight. There will be lots of fodder until the spring." PJ welcomes the clock change to winter time. "I like to work in the mornings. I also like the idea of winter hibernation. It's the time of year to slow down."
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