Ann Fitzgerald: It's time to beef up the good news message about our food industry
McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain. Founded in America in the 1940s, it currently serves some 69 million customers a day, across...
McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain. Founded in America in the 1940s, it currently serves some 69 million customers a day, across...
I admire the 20x20 campaign, aimed at shifting Ireland's cultural perception of women's sport, so much so that I would love to see something similar for female farmers - ordinary women in wellies.
I'm delighted that we're starting 2019 on an energising note inside the farm gate, as we have just completed the planting of eight acres of forestry.
When I landed in home from a meeting recently, my husband, Robin, started talking about a TV programme he had just watched, in which...
'Regift' is not a dirty word. Rather, it's time to tag it onto the popular anti-waste motto, 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'.
The Irish farmer's reluctance to pass on land runs very deep. That is changing - not before time.
The length of time that people tend to hold on to land is quite constant, at 25-30 years, irrespective of the age that they inherit. Someone who inherits young tends to pass it on at a young age, and a person who is older when they inherit tends to be older when they pass it on.
What is the main job of a politician? To look after those in need? No. World peace? No, that's in beauty pageants. In the real world, a politician's priority - except for one-term positions - is to ensure their re-election.
In Hindsight, there was an inevitability to it all; in a year that the weather drove farming 'quare', it would surely also stick its oar into farming's biggest annual event, the Ploughing.
Old habits die hard. But they do die.
I recently spent a morning in paradise.
What springs to mind when you think of a skilled craft? Fine art, precision engineering, needlework, maybe plastic surgery? I doubt that tractor...
History offers plenty of examples of subjects that we once regarded as blessings being subsequently revealed as curses.
I was driving along (in the sunshine) one day last week when an ad came on the radio that made me say out loud, right there on the spot, "what a good idea!".
We have become a people of extremes - is it because we can?
When taking out a bank loan, a prominent Leinster auctioneer is advising farmers to only hand over the deeds to the portion of the property necessary to satisfy the lender’s requirements.
Just as the government would be ill advised to ignore the Peter Casey vote, the IFA cannot afford to dismiss the new Beef Plan Movement.
I am an hour into my walk around the farm at Blanchville House, a few miles from Kilkenny city, when my host John Phelan says something that stops me in my tracks: "You have to make the most of your opportunities," he says.
Three whiteboard farm maps hang on the wall of the Heffernan dairy in Dunnamaggin, Co Kilkenny.
Grant aid may need to be introduced to reverse the shortfall in lime application on Irish soils, Teagasc has warned.
So what are you going to do for the long winter nights?
There will be no scaling back the ambitious expansionary targets set out for the agri-food sector in Food Wise 2025, a senior Government minister has stated.
In the first half of this year, one person a fortnight died in an incident on an Irish farm.
I had intended to dedicate this column to the achievements of Ireland's women's hockey team but I have put it off for a week to respond to Ted Walsh's comments on farmers and ragwort, which I consider to be totally unacceptable.
Two recent episodes reminded me of the diverse faces of generosity.
The force of this feeling was very evident during the fodder crisis - farmers who were struggling on so many levels were most stressed about not being able to look after their animals as well as they would want to.
A recent meeting with three young lads has bolstered my hope for their generation's ability to prosper in the Ireland they will inherit.
It used to be that visiting a wood was about connecting with nature and a blast of fresh air. A recent outing to Lough Key Forest Park and Activity Centre near Boyle, Co Roscommon revealed it can now also be about more.
"Are ye going to see the Pope?"
On Friday, March 9, Siobhán Madden, was tidying her desk at the AIB bank in Adare, Co Limerick, in preparation for taking the following week off to go to Cheltenham, when she got a prank call.
Help me, please!
An old farmer I knew had a 'set' against Met Éireann's Gerald Fleming, who used to do the weather forecasts on RTÉ TV.
Sister Stan was last week's guest on the riveting Lenten slot 'What's It All About?' on Ivan Yates' drivetime radio show on Newstalk.
In the past two years, Alan McDonnell has switched from buying in dairy cross bull calves to now buying them in as weanlings.
TB, or not TB? Apologies to any literary sensitive souls, for the terrible play on words, but the annual "round" test, which we had last week, strains the brain and the body.
Stern warnings about the incorrect use of both anthelmintics and antibiotics were issued at the Animal Health Ireland/Teagasc/Meat Industry Ireland animal health event held on Alan McDonnell's farm in Streamstown, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
A dairy cow produces very dilute colostrum, that is only half the concentration of that produced by a beef cow.
There once was a widow named Mary who was milking 10 cows. Her advisor said to her,: "Do you know, Mary, on your acreage, you could be milking 20 cows". After a moment, Mary replied: "Why would I milk 20 cows when I can live off 10?"
If my farmer husband's love for me were to be assessed on the modern romantic grounds of a St Valentine's Day box of chocolates and a dozen red roses, he would certainly score an NG (No Grade).
Sir Thomas More was born this week 540 years ago. He went on to become one of Henry VIII's most trusted civil servants but was strongly opposed to the King's split from the Catholic Church and ended up being beheaded for treason.
Farmers provided most of the heartening moments in last week's RTÉ documentary How Ireland Eats, a fascinating but ultimately chilling snapshot of our current relationship with food, from the stance of a primary producer and a parent of young children.
I hated the approach to discipline that some teachers took (and some still do, I believe!). He/she would be going out of the classroom and tell everyone to be quiet. A few smart-alecs would always act up and, instead of going after the culprits, everyone would be punished.
I love the bright new toaster I got as a Christmas present, from my sister Rose. (This year we did traditionally practical presents and I got her a dressing gown.)
"Every day is a learning day," says Tom Dunne. It is a motto that has clearly served the organic farmer well, as he was the overall winner of the 2016 Zurich Farm Insurance/Farming Independent Farmer of the Year competition.
Like most people, I've met a few bad eggs but I still believe that human nature is basically good.
There are signs that Ireland's organic beef sector is hitting a log-jam.
Writing a few months back that, "I am a lapsed Catholic" ruffled a few feathers. When I said the same thing last week to Fr Paddy Byrne, his instant response was, "So am I," before adding, "in ways".
When a dairy farmer is considering investing on their farm, the first thing to do is draw a simple sketch of the farmyard layout showing the movement of cows, according to Teagasc dairy expansion service co-ordinator, Patrick Gowing.
There is an old joke about a farmer's wife who was milking a cow by hand when the time came for her to give birth to another baby. Apparently, she went into the house, delivered the baby and returned to finish milking the cow.
We had our Bord Bia Quality Assurance inspection last week.
All regular buyers have their own way of conveying a bid to the auctioneer, according to veteran auctioneer George Candler.
During the 1980s and 90s, the mart trade experienced many a crisis, but the one that really stands out for Kilkenny-based auctioneer, George Candler, was the Foot and Mouth Disease of 2001.
The likelihood of a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur nations being struck by the current December deadline has receded following a major intervention by French president Emmanuel Macron.
What would happen if there was a monster stalking the land, killing, by a wide range of means, a large and growing cohort of the population? Wouldn't you expect a mass mobilisation of state services to tackle the monster? Well, that monster is already on the rampage. It's called Obesity.
After writing a column last year about dog fouling in my nearby town of Abbeyleix, word filtered through that the secretary of the local Tidy Towns committee, Mary White, wanted to talk to me.
My husband Robin recently changed his mobile phone. In an era when there are people who change their mobiles nearly as often as their socks, this might not seem remarkable. But Robin had his phone for over 11 years.
I am very excited at the prospect that we are, hopefully, going to plant some forestry.
I got a letter last week that gave me the best laugh I've had in a long time.
'That'll do pig...' They may not be fluffy, but they are pink and adorable
Tipperary farmer Sean Hayden was smitten with Stabiliser cattle from the first moment he saw them, because of their docility.
Last week, I attended an Open Day for a breed of cattle I have only recently heard of, Stabilisers. I came away asking if they could be the saviour of commercial Irish suckler farming?
After the previously reported travails with a B&B scammer, we did manage to get going to Dingle, where the highlight was a trip to the Great Blasket Island.
I write today about a stranger's kindness. Or was it?
One morning last week, when I pulled the curtains on our landing, my eyes popped at the vast number of crows before me.
TODAY, I bring you a story of two cafés.
I have just three skinny hopes that Brexit won't have a big and bad impact on the economy of Ireland.
Farmers make great fathers.
Of the big questions we all face, there is one that is strangely unsolved - what happens to socks that get lost in the wash?
Oil-blackened horse hooves, talced up udders, proud photos of ruddy-faced white-coated handlers and their red rosette-bearing stock. It can only mean one thing - the agricultural show season is under way.
Last week's call-out to the public to report sightings of the metre-long rodent-like coypu - after one was spotted in Cork - was a refreshingly frank act at a time when politically correct procrastination is so common.
"Was there a will?" or "who got the place?" are questions which are still commonly (if quietly) discussed in the outer circle of mourners at the funeral of a farmer.
Looking from our kitchen, the countryside has never seemed more vibrantly beautiful.
My husband Robin is a great one for ideas and recently came up with the notion to "reboot the countryside".
Everything happens for a reason.
RTÉ's Big Week on the Farm might be the most important TV coverage of Irish farming since Telefíís Feirme half a century ago.
Occasionally, you stumble across a gem on the internet, as I did recently with Dúchas.ie, a project to digitise our National Folk Collection (NFC).
When you meet a young person of your acquaintance for the first time in ages, chances are you'll say something like "How you've grown!" or some other phrase observing a significant physical change.
Watching nature programmes makes us happier. It's probably something we would all have thought. But now, it's official.
The recognition of Travellers as an ethnic group could be a seminal moment for Ireland - but it's a complex problem.
We enjoyed our best family holiday (so far!) over the midterm when we went skiing to Andorra.
I've attended three funerals in the past few weeks.
Thanks to everyone who turned out for our Farmland Walk and to all who helped make it a success.
Few people of any age need reminding that today is St Valentine's Day. It's supposed to be the most romantic day of the year.
Last week, the Taoiseach launched 'Ireland 2040', variously described as a report, consultation or plan.
Spring is springing. But how do I know? Is it the snowdrops stirring, daffodils dancing or weeds awakening? No, it's because of the slurry hurry. And other poopy stuff!
It struck me last week that women farmers see themselves differently when they farm with men, compared to those who farm on their own, whether because they are single, widowed, separated, etc.
It was fascinating when I recently talked to a number of female mart managers.
Ask anyone to pick the most macho part of the macho business of farming, and they would probably not look past a mart.
Three thoughts, one idea.
Groundhog Day is one of my favourite movies. In it, a cynical weather forecaster played by Bill Murray lives the same day over.
Hardly a week goes by when Irish agriculture isn't attacked for its contribution to climate change. But another highly significant, connected, issue, which gets far less attention is food waste; and it's one that everyone, not just farmers, could be addressing.
It's the time of year when we give each other gifts and many charities try to tap into the sense of goodwill by running their main annual fundraising drives.
My eye was caught last week by a snippet in our local newspaper where a telephone kiosk was described as being "as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike."
What many of us don’t know — and many more have forgotten — is that it actually contains a very important subliminal message, to get young people thinking about the opposite sex.
There are many similarities between farming in different parts of the world.
Calling all rural clubs and organisations. Do you need an injection of cash and are you willing to work for it?
Embrace FARM will host a support group meeting in the Corralea Court Hotel , Tuam, Co Galway on Friday November 25, at 8pm.
We are happy to be seeing the first tangible returns from our participation in GLAS, the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme.
Among the few good Irish memories from the Rio Olympics are those of Gary and Paul O'Donovan. Not only for winning the country's first rowing medal but also for their humorous, uninhibited interviews.
I've just watched a beautiful, heart-breaking, movie. It opens in Paris on a bright, crisp autumn day. Two large groups are milling about, one wearing red, the other in blue and white stripes, exchanging good natured banter.
I recently got to reprise one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done - teaching line-dancing.
A friend recently went to buy a replacement remote control for their DVD player. It was going to cost €40. Then she was offered a new DVD player complete, obviously, with its own new remote, for the same price.
"To save power, he would get the men in under the cows milking and then turn off the electric light until they were finished about eight minutes later. He would then briefly turn on the light for them to strain the milk, and turn it off again between each cow milking."
"Do you want to go to the Ploughing?" I asked our 9-year-old daughter Ruth.
We are thinking of getting another pet. But what?
"When I tune into nature's frequency, life becomes change and change becomes hope".
Our 12-year-old daughter Sarah embarks on a new adventure this week when she starts secondary school, at Kilkenny College. We are experiencing a mix of emotions, including excitement and trepidation.
Most families have a photographer, the person who records events.
Faster, Higher, Stronger is the familiar Olympic motto. It was proposed in 1894 by father of the modern Olympics, Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin, who added, "these three words represent a programme of moral beauty."
The highlights of our stay in west Cork were trips to the islands, Whiddy and Bere.
Unexpectedly encountering a thing of beauty swells the soul.
I can be as gloomy as the next person about global warming. But sometimes you just have to look on the sunny side (sorry!).
I badly need to find ways to use up our courgettes.
Everyone we told that we were going to Jersey on holiday responded with some version of "watch out, there's an awful lot of crime for such a small place."
I recently presented an open goal to my husband Robin and he duly booted the ball into the back of the net.