The global population is soaring, and drought and soil fertility problems are mounting, yet farmers are being scapegoated rather than assisted
The population of the world is increasing by an average of 82 million people every year — more than the population of Ireland every month.
We are told some of the grain-producing regions of the world have as little as 70 harvests left in them, and water shortages are impacting more and more people.
Yet none of the current EU policies are concerned about food security or the financial wellbeing of primary food producers.
Farmers are being singled out for a lot of negative comment but scientific measurements show that Irish dairy farmers are the most carbon-efficient in the EU and our beef producers are among the best.
We also know there is no model of farming from anywhere else in the world more sustainable or providing better-quality food than we produce here.
All the debate is around CAP reform, eco schemes, climate change, convergence, nitrates derogation, water quality and carbon tax.
All of these will have a huge influence on our incomes in the future. We have very little control over most of them and instead rely heavily on our minister for agriculture and his Department officials to negotiate on our behalf.
We are also counting on our researchers (mostly in Teagasc) to put forward good, solid arguments that allow us to continue to supply consumers with high-quality, nutritious, affordable food.
But there are areas on our own farms we can control
Here, breeding and feeding the milking herd are our two main focus areas at the moment.
They will have a significant impact on milk production this year: by maintaining peak we extend the milk production curve, while our breeding work will ensure we maximise days in milk next year by calving a higher percentage of the herd to grass in February.
The herd is producing 24 litres with an average of 4.35pc fat and 3.72pc protein over the last five collections or 1.99 kg/ms/day on 2kg of a 14pc ration.
Grass quality is excellent, with our cover/cow still a little on the low side at 145. But growth, at 78 and increasing due to the lift in temperatures, is above our demand of 67.
We had 7pc of the milking platform re-seeded at the end of May and we intend to do the same again over the next few weeks.
Last year we sowed a 100pc tetraploid mix in each paddock with 1kg of clover per acre.
The clover looks to be present throughout these fields so we will reduce the protected urea for the next few applications and see if we can get the clover well established.
A very welcome temporary reprieve has been obtained for the clover-safe post-emergence spray which will give us the ability to control seedling weeds post-emergence and support us in our efforts to establish vibrant, productive clover pastures.
On the breeding side, my son Enda put a lot of emphasis on pre-heat detection, with the cows using a combination of tail paint and the collars.
Some of the herd were put on OAD to improve BCS and improve their chances of coming into heat. He had our vet out to check non-cycling cows and treat them as required with either more time, cidrs or estrumate.
His three-week submission rate was 98pc and now we are hoping for a good non-return rate.
AI has now moved to all beef, mostly Angus to give us easy calving and short gestation.
Last spring our Angus calves were born about six days before their predicted calving date and this results in more days in milk, giving us six days extra production without increasing costs or our carbon footprint.
Today (Tuesday, June 1)is the second farm walk for our discussion group, and what a boost it is to us all to get out for a walk and talk with like-minded farmers.
Henry and Patricia Walsh farm in Oranmore, Co Galway along with their son Enda, and neighbour and outfarm owner John Moran