Darragh McCullough: 'Treading the fine line between being under capacity and being competely overwhelemed'
I was lucky enough to be part of the action on RTÉ's Big Week on the Farm last week. It was...
I was lucky enough to be part of the action on RTÉ's Big Week on the Farm last week. It was...
one of the recurring questions that is on people's minds in the midst of this beef crisis is: what are the alternatives? I'd be first to admit that there...
I got an early-morning call last week from a farm consultant in the west who wanted to set up a...
I'm sick to the teeth of reading lazy, half-assed smear pieces about Sitka spruce. Here are five...
Finally, a dose of reality is entering the Brexit debate. The report on BBC's Newsnight...
Figures showing that food costs 20pc more in Ireland compared to the rest of Europe are further proof that Irish consumers are still being ripped off for their food. But who's to blame? The easy target for some are the food producers, aka farmers.
You know you're getting old when you start remarking on the passage of time. So I was confirming my oldie status last week marvelling over technological advances in farming over the last 20 years.
My main farm enterprise is cut flowers, so instead of ringing my local Teagasc advisor when I've got a question, I get on a plane to Holland.
The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) has disputed claims that the bulk of grain used to make Irish whiskey is imported.
How Irish is 'Irish' whiskey? This is a valid question that our cereal growers have been asking for years. But nobody has been listening.
The Brits' notions of a glorious Brexit are slipping through their fingers by the day. Their pride will prevent them from staying in the EU but what...
The news that the meat-free Whopper is being trialled in the US this month is only further proof that vegetarian, vegan and 'flexitarian' diets are...
Teagasc have taken the decision to move away from breeding male calves from crossbred Jerseys and it's a decision that will be welcomed by many.
My opinion of glyphosate has changed a lot since the landmark case in California last year.
Are farmers guilty of talking out of both sides of their mouth when it comes to disease control in the national herd?
'Steps to Success 2019' is the fourth update on the Food Wise 2025 plan that sets out a road-map for the agri-food sector. Effectively, it is a report on a report, complete with lots of smiling farm families and bucolic landscapes, and is correspondingly light on actual figures.
Scapegoats and sacrificial lambs are dominating farming utterances in the wake of the Climate Change Advisory Council's report. It may be a bit confusing for the non-farming types out there to realise that it's actually all about the bovines.
For the past couple of months I've been looking at my options for getting into forestry. For years, I'd been guilty of dismissing it as an enterprise that was only of interest to farmers on marginal land.
We all know farming is seen as a major problem in terms of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions. But why is nobody turning that question on its head and putting agriculture forward as the solution?
After 20 years of scaremongering, the doomsday scenario of a Mercosur deal, complete with sacrificial calves, has arrived.
What will our newly elected MEPs want for farmers in the next EU parliament?
Call it a coincidence. After voicing my frustrations about rural internet on the national airwaves at the weekend, two shiny vans rolled into the farmyard last week to install...high-speed internet.
Convicted murderer Pat Quirke confirms our worst suspicions that Ireland's most ambitious dairy farmers are greedy so-and-sos that will stop at nothing in their thirst for more.
It's ironic that beef farmers are the poor relations compared to their dairy brethren these days.
At what point does a dairy cow become a beef cow?
Is Bord Bia now officially every farmer's favourite punchbag? Almost every farmer I meet has a tale of woe about audits and the expense and the lack of return.
We set a new record here on the farm yesterday. I had 40 people out in the fields picking daffodils and they came in with a haul of over 500,000 stems.
Is the recent review into the aftermath of Storm Emma on the Greenfield demonstration farm a complete account of the horrible season that the operation has endured?
At first glance, the latest data on the suckler herd presents a picture of a remarkably resilient sector where numbers have only slipped by an annual average of less than 1pc since 2010.
A year ago, I wrote about the ridiculous situation I found myself in with the Department of Agriculture.
As a farmer, I'm beginning to feel more like an environmental terrorist than a food producer.
The campaign to secure €200 per cow for suckler farmers ahead of this month's Budget is bonkers, and Minister Creed is dead right to be holding firm against it.
We had our first Ear to the Ground editorial meeting last week ahead of production getting into gear for the new season.
Gurteen Agricultural College hosted another marvellous open day around the theme of renewable energy recently.
Teagasc's estimate that dairy incomes will fall by 60pc this year was stark enough to make headlines. But dairy farmers are not the worst-off following this year's drought.
IT was hard not to be envious of both the farmers that I was filming with last week. It was the start of production for my 16th season on Ear to the Ground.
Kerrymen are a very exercised bunch at the best of times, but there's a chunk of them down there that are fit to go into orbit at the moment.
Which way is up or down on Brexit? The more you look into it, the harder it is to figure out.
I'm blue in the face giving out about the EU farm subsidy regime. Anybody who has been willing to listen to me in recent years will have heard why I think the payments system is a complete farce.
The older you get, the more scared you become. That's just a fact of life.
Is there anything as maddening as the modern-day utility or insurance bill?
As the suitors line up to claim the spoils from LacPatrick, spare a thought for the farmer shareholders of the northern outfit.
During the course of filming RTÉ's Big Week On The Farm I spent a night on Inís Mór off the Galway coast.
I've a confession to make. I've spent a good bit of time browsing porn into the small hours over the last month. Car-porn that is.
In two weeks, I'll be back touring the farms of Ireland for RTÉ's Big Week on the Farm TV show. The week-long live broadcast has become something of an annual fixture in the national broadcaster's calendar such is the reaction from the viewing public, and there's a great buzz around it for all those involved.
Why don't farmers use credit unions? Certainly if you were to go by the headlines in recent years, you could be forgiven for thinking credit unions were yet another example of some of the boom's worst excesses.
Former IFA president Eddie Downey remains determined to address a meeting of the organisation’s national council in the aftermath of the €1.9m settlement with its former secretary general.
Former Irish Farmers' Association president Eddie Downey is demanding to address a national meeting, claiming he was defamed during the period when he stepped down from his role.
The fall-out from the Irish Farmers' Association €1.9m settlement with its former secretary general continues to rumble this week.
So we've morphed from a Celtic Tiger into a Celtic Phoenix. That's the best way the economists are able to label the fact that we've more disposable income per household than at the height of the boom, and that there's as many people back in employment now as there ever was.
In some of my more idle moments, I wonder what my 150ac farm would be able to generate if I looked to pump as much value out of every acre as your typical pig farmer or mushroom grower.
While most people sweated over preparations for the Christmas dinner, I found myself fretting about exactly 49 dinners on Christmas day.
It is not so long ago that milking 100 cows was the ultimate goal for the ambitious Irish dairy farmer.
An age-old gripe for farmers is that they have to buy inputs at retail prices, but sell their output at wholesale prices.
The reaction to last week's piece about my frustrations dealing with claim after claim by the Department of Agriculture in relation to my farm payments struck a chord.
I never bought into the notion that the Department of Agriculture is some kind of cruel taskmaster that has it in for farmers.
Spare a thought for the lads in Glanbia's PR department. If they aren't getting it in the neck from farmers about the latest scheme to lock in loyalty through feed purchases, they're fighting a backlash from the country's usually mild-mannered meal millers.
Cork vet Bill Cashman has been singing from the rooftops about many of the biosecurity risks that have come to pass over the last few decades, and Johne's is one of them.
Despite all the news about massive solar farms and fantastic opportunities for farmers to become green fuel entrepreneurs, renewable energy has been little more than a series of false dawns for the average Irish farmer.
THERE was little to dampen farming spirits at Tullamore show, with the good weather allowing most farmers to be well on with work, and prices in many sectors better than this time last year.
You've got to take your hat off to the dairy lobby. Every time they squeak about milk price or on-farm problems, heaven and earth is moved to facilitate them.
I have always maintained that living a mere 40km from O'Connell Street has been a massive benefit.
Farmers are bad employers. Not in the sense that they are difficult or exploit employees - it's more to do with their unrealistic expectations.
Dairy farmers have a major problem, and most don't realise it yet.
I rang a neighbour last week looking for the loan of a machine. During the conversation he mentioned how annoyed he was with his latest Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) evaluation for his stockbull, which had fallen from a five-star to a two-star bull (across breeds) in the past year.
The headlines around Brexit are invariably gloomy, with various levels of economic Armageddon predicted for Irish business, and agriculture in particular.
What do Kerry Co-op share-holders really want?
It was only "a notion" that resulted in Peter Hynes entering the Zurich Farm Insurance Farming Independent Farmer of the Year awards - and it wasn't even his own notion.
Is it just me that has a feeling of déjà vu at the moment? Traffic getting worse in the mornings, the lines of builders queuing for breakfast rolls in the Spar, spiralling rents, and the resumption of pay negotiations.
Beef farmers would probably look at the figures in disbelief.
Years of covering farm politics has left me slightly jaded of the types of headlines generated by the IFA event last week - 'Brexit to be biggest threat to farming in history of the State' and the like.
Many dairy farmers are dicing with burnout as expansion locks them into 90-hour weeks. And there is no way to side-step the peak in work that goes with the spring calving system. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be torture. Darragh McCullough talks to the experts and top operators about how to achieve stress-free dairy farming
Last autumn I got a serious shock when I realised my miserable 60ac of winter barley was not only unprofitable, but that the whole exercise would actually leave a loss amounting to thousands of euro.
Aurivo has made its first move into the field of infant nutrition with the launch of a new range of 'growing-up' milk powder formulations aimed at boosting profit margins for the western co-op by 20pc.
Tesco has confirmed that it has no immediate plans to clamp down on Irish dairy herds that are positive for Johnes despite claims that the disease poses risks to humans.
Peter Whyte started "without a sod of land", as his son Jimmy puts it. "Look around you - he bought every acre of it," says Jimmy of the sprawling North County Dublin farm today before pausing for a second.
Nobody should be surprised by the proposal unveiled by Glanbia last week. Even fewer should be surprised when it sails through the vote in the coming months. This latest step in the long goodbye between the plc and the co-op was always going to happen after the watershed vote in 2012.
Calf prices in the marts have hardened on the back of continuing strong demand from farmers and shippers and the recent reduction in veterinary inspection levies on exports.
Clodagh Cavanagh is a woman on a mission - several missions, in fact. Expecting her second child in August, and juggling crèche duties for her first-born with dad Steve Smyth, it's impressive that the Nenagh woman still finds the time and headspace to manage one of Ireland's most successful machinery manufacturing businesses.
In the scramble to cash in on solar panels, wind turbines, willow and miscanthus plantations, it seems that the millions of tonnes of slurry from our massive livestock industry have been overlooked.
The killer hound that has been on the rampage in the south-east is still at large, despite repeated attempts to hunt him down by expert shooters.
Dairy farmers received a welcome spring boost yesterday when Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII), Kerry Group and Lakeland Dairies all increased their January milk price.
Farmers are facing a battle to hold onto their nitrates derogations as EU officials assess our application for rolling exemptions to phosphorus and nitrogen limits.
Beef processors have backed calls for increased supports for suckler farmers, but stressed that any such payments should not finance a beef-cow cull.
President Trump's clampdown on immigrants has already sent staff in top Irish food companies back home to Ireland.
This is the killer dog that has evaded gun-parties in the southeast for the last three weeks.
The farm organisations are on a collision course over beef sector supports, with the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) arguing for payments to cull suckler cows, while the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has demanded increased payments to retain numbers.
A look at the key questions and challenges which Brexit will pose for our beef industry.
Many beef farms could face a battle for survival if Britain pushes ahead with a hard Brexit, according to some of the country's leading agricultural experts.
Fancy earning an extra €1,000 a week?
Tighter timeframes for completing works which have been grant approved under TAMS are being considered by the Department of Agriculture.
The IFA has described the EU's fertiliser market as completely dysfunctional and claimed farmers were being held to ransom by Europe's fertiliser industry.
Measures aimed at protecting biodiversity in grassland are not being targeted properly according to a new report by top ecologists.
Grain farmers will protest outside the Dáil tomorrow ahead of a private member's motion on emergency aid.
It's a milestone for the Irish dairy industry, and the culmination of a lifetime's work and dreams. This spring Tom Browne's visions have come true as he calves down 1,046 cows on his Greenhills farm in east Cork. "In a way it just creeps up on you," laughs the ever-genial Tom.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed is under pressure to increase the funding available for GLAS following unprecedented demand for the scheme ahead of the deadline for applications this Thursday.
The figures could not be starker. Over 70pc of all organic lamb ends up in conventional channels, mixed in with the rest of the conventially produced stock coming off Irish farms.
One farmer in Carlow says the infestation of rats in his tillage crop could prove a health and safety issue for local residents.
The opening salvo in the battle to retain payments on lands currently designated as Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) formerly known as 'disadvantaged' was fired in Carrick-on-Shannon on Friday evening, with over 300 farmers attending an IFA meeting on the issue.
A new disease eradication scheme will be launched this week as the dairy industry looks to protect the €1.7bn of annual infant milk formula sales from a 'BSE-style' disaster.
Tensions are mounting between the key players in the delivery of the €150m low-interest loan package to farmers.
Dairy incomes are set to hit record levels again next year on the back of rebounding milk prices and increased output, Teagasc has predicted.
The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has claimed that his department would be 'overwhelmed' if it tried to sort out farmers' allegations of tax abuses by processors.
Senator Ronan Mullen said that he was troubled by Alo Mohan's contention that "he lost out on €25,000 per year because he did not participate in various VAT arrangements".
Are the big corporate interests bullying the common man in County Cavan?" asked Senator Ronan Mullen in the Senate last week.
The manner in which the Department of Agriculture has dealt with farmers awaiting direct payments was "not acceptable" and contravened the Farmers Charter of Rights, the INHFA has claimed.
"It's not fair to me that I have to go to bed tonight knowing that Revenue is due to be paid tomorrow and I don't have the money to pay them."
The IFA has expressed concern that draft environmental requirements for new forestry plantations are too strict and lack flexibility.
Hundreds of Kerry milk suppliers have received Revenue letters demanding the payment of tax arrears on shares farmers received for their loyalty to the global dairy giant.
Close to 200,000 cows are to be culled over the coming months in the Netherlands in a desperate attempt by Dutch authorities to avoid losing their nitrates derogations.
The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) is facing a funding crisis as farmers opt out of the tag levy in their droves.
Late last week I found myself in horsey country in Bruff, Co Limerick. I was there to visit Ballyvoan stud, a neat stud farm located just a short distance from the town.
The poultry sector is the subject of a major tax probe following an investigation by the EU Commission.
Tensions between the Charolais Society and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) have been strained to breaking point following the exclusion of linear scores for many of the bulls entered into the breed's annual December sale.
It was three years ago when I last wrote about the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU.