Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

Farmers plough on as payments lift spirits

Lely Ireland's Ailish Brennan with a Lely Welger Tornado baler at Cardenton, Athy, for the ploughing spectacular which kicks off
Lely Ireland's Ailish Brennan with a Lely Welger Tornado baler at Cardenton, Athy, for the ploughing spectacular which kicks off today

Aideen Sheehan

FARMERS preparing for this year's Ploughing Championships got a boost yesterday when the Department of Agriculture announced new EU payments worth more than €130m.

Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith also said he expected to get the green light from Brussels today for the early release of around €600m in single farm payments to Irish farmers next month.

The €130m boost is in disadvantaged area payments.

"I am conscious that despite this being a good year for farming from a production and price perspective, the farming community has endured two difficult years in terms of farm income," Mr Smith said. When the balance of payments is issued by the end of the year, Irish farmers will have received €1.5bn in Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, and Mr Smith said this high level of funding should remind the farming community of the importance of CAP money and the need to protect it in forthcoming EU negotiations.

Meanwhile the National Ploughing Association said that heavy rain on Sunday had failed to dampen preparations for this year's ploughing event, which kicks off in Cardenton, just outside Athy, in Co Kildare today with all heavy machinery already on site.


"It is absolutely beautiful and there's even a lorry in front of me kicking up dust, so that shows you how dry it is," spokeswoman Anna Marie McHugh confirmed yesterday.

Some 15kms of metal track has been laid around the 700-acre site to ensure ease of movement for up to 180,000 visitors over the three-day event.

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This is the 79th year of the Ploughing Championships and the second in a row it is being held at Cardenton after a highly successful event last year.

This year's event will also host the 'European Reversible Ploughing Contest' for the first time. This event will attract 26 competitors from 13 countries -- Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark.

The Irish team is hotly fancied to take this title as it is made up of defending champion John Whelan and last year's runner-up Dan Donnelly, both from Wexford. They are both hoping to qualify for the 2011 World Finals in Sweden.

A record 1,100 trade stands are also on site, ranging from farm machinery to fashion, food, crafts and cookery.

Some 45,000 metres of electrical cable have been laid and five large generators brought in to power the massive event, which is widely seen as the highlight of the rural calendar.

More than 1,000 people will be employed in the catering section alone, while nearly 500 volunteers have travelled from every county in Ireland to help run the championships.

A garda traffic management plan will be in operation with routes signposted from all directions. Bus transfers will operate from Athy, Kildare and Portarlington stations.

Entrance is €20 for adults, €15 for students and free for under-12s.

Irish Independent

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