The sheds are full of straw and fodder as we batten down the hatches for winter

File photo
File photo

Peter Hynes

September really was a hectic month for us as a family. On the farm we got the final around of fertiliser out in the form of protected urea. We had near-ideal grazing conditions for the month, but if anything we needed the rain that came the last week of September as the headlands of our fields were really starting to suffer from the dry conditions.

The sheds are full of straw this autumn. We always get it from a local contractor who have top quality straw and we haul it ourselves as it's within a mile of our farm yard.

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It's a relief to know we are well prepared for the winter with a big bank of fodder.

We probably won't open the main silage pit until January judging by the stack of silage bales in the yard.

Along with keeping the farm running, we have also spent as much time away. From the outside, it probably looks like a lot of fun, but being honest we are really tired after all the travelling and intend to spend a few quiet weeks at home.

Our travels started with a last-minute meeting in the UK. That involved a 4.30am start, getting the first flight out of Cork to Birmingham and then on to Stoneleigh. Seeing first hand the challenges that face British farmers with Brexit was a real eye opener.

How can an industry plan when there is no plan and if that isn't a big enough challenge there is also no definite time on when they can make a plan.

The blame lies firmly with Westminster and from the outside looking in it seems they may forsake agriculture in a no-deal scenario.

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The following week we left home at 10.30pm on the Tuesday night to catch a ferry from Dublin to Holyhead for three days in the UK as we were running a mental health awareness event in Shrewsbury.

We stopped at UK Dairy Day in Telford on the way. It is a fantastic day with everything a dairy farmer could want. We met many Twitter friends and spent the day chatting.

The Rearing To Go event in Shrewsbury was inspiring. There was a great list of speakers followed by a workshop aimed at building resilience and giving farmers the tools to cope with everyday pressures.

We held an auction in the afternoon supporting three great charities.

The whole concept came together when we were asked would we run an auction similar to the one we had in March in Cork which we were happy to do once we could include the conference and workshop.

The main thing you hope will come out of such an event is awareness around mental health and we would hope it achieved that.

Once we were home from the UK, we were finalists in the FarmHero competition which a student had nominated us for so we went to Kilkenny early on the Monday for an interview with the organisers followed by a busy day at the Ploughing on the Wednesday.

I think it's the first year I've been to the ploughing where I got sunburnt. The week ended with another dash up the motorway on the Friday for the 'Late Late Show'. It was an absolute pleasure chatting to Ryan Tubridy . Sitting on set together chatting about the Rearing To Go charity event, which had first been discussed the day after the Farmer Of The Year awards in 2018, made us really proud of what we had achieved in less than 12 months.

We know our limits and prioritising our mental well-being has to be a priority which is why the next few months will be quiet for us.

Every step of the way on our travels in the UK we were asked about the beef crisis in Ireland. It's good to see the pickets have dispersed and hopefully the agreement will be built on.


But I also feel there is a lot more that needs to be discussed. Ireland exports 50pc of its beef to the UK. Prices have been slipping here and I believe that is firmly on the back of prices plummeting over there.

The bottom line is the UK consumer has been eating a lot less beef this year.

That is largely down the how beef is being portrayed in the broader media.

Since I've been to Stoneleigh, the average carcass price in the UK slipped further when all our processors were shut down.

I would be extremely worried about where the beef industry will go in the next 12 months and the bottom line is it's more than an industry - it's family farms and livelihoods.

Live cattle exports have to be a priority, the farm organisations have a responsibility to chase down there markets and we also need to see a return of the small-scale abattoirs supported in shipping quality carcasses abroad. It could be argued that we have regulated those individuals out of the industry. I firmly believe we need an advertising campaign encouraging consumers here and in the UK to eat beef and MII should be contributing to that.

Peter Hynes farms with his wife Paula at Aherla, Co Cork

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