Darragh McCullough: It's time to park our emotions and debunk the myths about suckler farming
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
I never bought into the notion that the Department of Agriculture is some kind of cruel taskmaster that has it in for farmers.
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?
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.
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.
The biggest payment date of the year for most farms is right around now. The EU's Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) pumps close to €1.2bn into Irish farmers bank accounts every year.
Following competition approval of his high-profile takeover of Slaney Foods in recent weeks, ABP owner Larry Goodman has signalled that further consolidation is necessary in the Irish beef sector.
Brexit has forced record numbers of Irish food exporters to look for new markets outside the UK at the giant Sial trade fair in France this week.
While most farm organisations were reasonably satisfied with the Budget, the ICMSA will feel that their concerns were ignored.
The measures introduced for farmers in Budget 2017, which include a €150m loan scheme and taxation measures, were made against the backdrop of falling farm incomes.
Agriculture is set to receive a €200m boost to its €1.3bn budget today as improving national finances begin to filter down to individual government departments.
Beef farmers have called on the Irish Cattle Breeding Society (ICBF) to speed up the roll-out of measures to tackle the falsification of key breeding data.
It's hard to be believe that an anti-corruption drive amongst Beijing's political elite would affect a farmer's milk cheque over 8,000km in Ballybay.
Concerns are mounting in the beef sector as Brexit currency pressures and surging supplies of finished cattle threaten to pull prices.
The biggest grass database in the world has been formed following the merger of Teagasc's PastureBase and privately owned AgriNet.
Pressures are mounting on the Government to help embattled cereal growers west of the Shannon. With the weather showing no sign of letting up, farmers in the western half of the country are facing the loss of tens of thousands of acres of cereals.
Irish farmers have proved that they don't need subsidies from the EU to be massively successful in their chosen profession. Some have chosen to leave the payment safety net behind and seek their fortunes, all over the world.
One of the country's richest businessmen, Larry Goodman, tops the Irish Independent's Farm Rich List with an annual EU farm payment of €483,753, despite successive attempts to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to make it more equitable.
Resistance to antibiotics is a "ticking time bomb" for the agricultural sector as vets encounter more and more cases of animals that cannot be cured by conventional drugs.
There are not too many foreign ambassadors based in London that are able to discuss the finer points of how Belgian Blues adapt to hilly conditions.
The Ploughing Championships kick off again in Tullamore today. In truth, it's really a crossroads where farmers will be matched in number by punters from towns, villages and cities rediscovering their wellied-roots during a day out in the country.
The stud farm owned by the ruler of Dubai and one of the Arab world's richest royals has received more than €300,000 in single farm payments from the EU over the past two years.
Handing over €150,000 of taxpayers' money every year to one of the richest sheikhs in the world is yet another example of how bonkers the EU's farm subsidy system has become.
About 140,000 Irish farmers are in recipient of EU farm payments, with the average annual payment not far off €12,000. While there are myriad subsidies and grants for marketing, environmental measures, and capital investment, the vast majority of the €1.6bn that flows into this country from Brussels comes under the Basic Payment Scheme that pays farmers per hectare. It's better known as the Single Farm Payment.
A tripling of workload during the spring calving season has made workloads a 'critical issue' on expanding dairy farms.
A second era of genetic engineering is underway in the US, with new gene 'editing' technology opening up a world of possibility at low cost to plant breeders.
THE typical US dairy herd is now at 900 cows as expansion continues in the sector across the Continent.
A 'hard' Brexit will make holding onto our existing British market and border access impossible, according to economist Colm McCarthy.
You're the youngest of 11, with five older brothers, and the family farm well spoken for. Think you've no chance of getting started in farming? Think again.
A dairy farmer from Mayo has been named the FBD Young Farmer of the Year.
Organised crime gangs are routinely 'coaching' animals with feed long before their planned raids, according to the IFA.
In 1990, the country was glued to the exploits of Jack's Army in the World Cup in Italy, Charlie Haughey was Taoiseach, the price of a pint was €1.93, and the average weekly wage was €282. It was a generation ago and Ireland is a very different place now, but what has changed in the sheep sector during the same period? In this first part of a series, Teagasc's Tim Keady and Kevin Hanrahan uncover some shocking facts.
In late 1965, then Agriculture Minister Charlie Haughey held a big party up in Government buildings to celebrate the end of a disease that had been the scourge of the country - bovine TB.
International dairy prices have turned a corner, but market experts warn that the sector "still has a ways to go before sustainable price increases" will be seen at farm level.
GardaÍ have smashed a rural crime gang behind hundreds of thefts and identified a farming 'insider' who was supplying information to them.
A massive fall in tillage area for 2017 is being predicted because of this year's disappointing harvest.