Deadline for Farm Safety Scheme Approaching

December 27th 2014

Applications for the TAMS Farm Safety Scheme must be in by January 9. Items qualifying for grant aid under the farm safety scheme include:

  • Safety Rails on Silo Walls
  • Safety Fencing for external slurry and effluent stores (including gate)
  • Solid Cover for External Slurry and Effluent Stores
  • Safety Covers on External Agitation Points or Manholes
  • Replacement of damaged slats (single/twin/gang) or replacement of existing internal agitation point with new gang slats
  • Replacement of hinged door/sheeted gate with a sliding door on agricultural buildings
  • Removal of end wall of tank and provision of external agitation point
  • Wiring/Rewiring of existing farm buildings
  • Yard Lights (min 200W equivalent, either metal halide or LED)
  • Retrofitting roof clear-sheet (roof light) with safety cages
  • Circulation pipe (6”) to allow for agitation of slurry
  • Installation of calving gates
  • Simple aeration systems
  • Mobile Cattle Crush Unit (min 2.4m long)
  • Mobile cattle penning max of 75 linear metres (in combination with a Cattle Handling unit)
  • Mobile cattle weighing scales
  • Leg hoist/ lifter
  • Head Scoop
  • Mobile specialised Sheep spraying equipment (with or without trailer)
  • Portable Sheep Handling Race with wheels (including footbath)
  • Portable Basic Sheep Handling Race
  • Mobile Sheep Weighing Facilities
  • Mobile Sheep Rollover Crates
  • Mobile Sheep “Batch” Footbaths
  • Mobile Sheep penning max of 75 linear metres (in combination with a Sheep Handling Race)
  • Mobile Sheep Adoption Unit Front
  • Mobile Sheep Adoption Unit Front with penning

For more details on applications, click here.


ICSA Pushes Case for Regulation of Food Chain Margins with Commissioner Hogan in Brussels

18th December 2014

ICSA met with EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan in Brussels today (18th December) and pushed the case for regulation and examination of margins in the retail food chain which apply to key farm products. “ICSA believes that we must have transparency around how the profits from key products like beef, lamb and dairy are shared between farmers, processors and retailers,” said ICSA president Patrick Kent. “ICSA is proposing that the EU Commission needs to introduce a pan-European regulator which would have power to audit the whole retail chain and discern whether there was a fair share of margins allocated to all parts of the chain. ICSA argues that the past twelve months provide ample evidence that farmers are not getting a fair share of the final retail price, in beef for instance. We believe that this must be the business of the EU Commission given that the success of the CAP is being undermined by farmers losing money in the marketplace.”

According to Mr Kent, Commissioner Hogan was receptive to the ICSA proposals. “The Commissioner accepts that there is a problem and acknowledges that ICSA has a point in calling for transparency around retail and processing margins. ICSA believes that where there is abuse of margins, the Commission-appointed regulator should have the power to impose fines. In the first instance however, the key requirement is that the regulator would have power to audit the margins along the retail chain at processor and retailer level.”

ICSA also raised the issue of LPIS overclaim penalties and emphasised that the penalties were very unfair. “Farmers are being pulled between environmental demands and agricultural requirements and it is impossible to meet both,” said Mr. Kent. “ICSA emphasised that these penalties were almost exclusively imposed on farmers on marginal land. It was accepted that farmers should be entitled to certainty around their applications and should not be at risk of penalties due to ever changing regulations or mapping changes.”

The ICSA delegation, consisting of president Patrick Kent, beef vice-chairman Tom Egan and general secretary Eddie Punch, also raised the problems around the hen harrier designation and the commonage GLAS plans with Commissioner Hogan. “The Commissioner seemed anxious to ensure that the commonage GLAS issue could be solved, especially around the contentious requirement for collective agreement,” said Mr. Kent.

In conclusion, Patrick Kent said that the meeting was useful and he looked forward to ongoing dialogue with the Commissioner and his team.

Profitability Must be Key Focus of Food Strategy 2015

18th December 2014

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has told the first meeting of the Food Strategy 2025 Committee that profitability must be the key focus.

“There is no point in increasing food production if the primary producers cannot make a profit,” said Mr. Phelan. “None of these food companies would exist without farmers to supply them, and farmers must get a fair share of the returns.”

“The focus on output cannot be allowed to distract from the need for farming to be viable. That’s why ICSA believes that increased profit should be the yardstick for any strategy. It is clear that the current returns from beef and sheep are not sustainable and this has started to really come into focus as EU supports fall for many farmers. Already the loss of REPS and cuts to DAS payments are hitting drystock farmers severely, and for many, the coming years will bring a reduction in Single Payment as well. It really is time for the entire agri-food sector to wake up to reality,” concluded Mr. Phelan.

Meat Industry Ireland Showing Complete Disregard for Roundtable Process

17th December 2014

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has accused Meat Industry Ireland of completely disregarding the recent roundtable agreement.

“It seems quite clear that meat processors have no intention of abiding by the recent agreement. They are ignoring the commitment to end dual pricing and are showing total disregard for the roundtable process,” said Mr. Phelan.

“Once again the factories are showing their clear disdain for the primary producer, the farmer on whom their business depends. How can farmers be expected to have any confidence in this process when factories obviously don’t take it seriously?”

“Factories have also been dragging their feet on expanding the Quality Assured bonus to include all steers and heifers and to date there has been no engagement with farmers on this.

ICSA Issues Warning on Buying Goods Through Advertisements

December 17th 2014

ICSA Leinster vice-president Joe O’Toole has warned farmers to be vigilant when responding to sales advertisements.

“We have recently received a disturbing report of a savage assault on a member of our national executive who had responded to an advertisement of a jeep for sale. He was given directions to a particular location which turned out to be a cul-de-sac, and he and his girlfriend were viciously attacked when they arrived there. He ended up in hospital, and it was only by pure luck that no money was taken, said Mr. O’Toole. “Reports from around the country suggest that this may not be an isolated incident, and people need to be vigilant.”

“Obviously these are matters for the Gardaí, but ICSA is urging people to take every precaution in such situations. We would advise that people only arrange to view or pay for goods in a safe, public location and never go alone. If you have any suspicions, report them to Gardaí.”

North-South Farm Groups Meet in Dublin

12th December 2014

A meeting of Agriculture sector groups both North and South, the third such meeting in the last ten months has taken place and included representatives from the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA), Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA), Severally Disadvantaged Area Association Group (SDA), National Beef Association (NBA), Northern Ireland Livestock Auctioneers Association (NILAA), Farm Rights Group (FRG), Irish Co-operative Society (ICOS) and Farmers For Action (FFA).

At the meeting, a range of issues were discussed including the current crisis across a range of commodities produced on family farms north and south, the outcome of recent Round Table talks chaired by Minister Coveney in the south including the possibility of reviving the North/South live export trade, the labelling issues in relation to beef particularly in the
UK and a report was provided on progress in relation to a proposal for safety net farm gate price legislation put to Stormont by NIAPA, SDA, NBA and FFA.

Quite clearly, a margin over production costs is necessary to help provide an income for a family and maintain the sustainability of a farming unit. The various visions for the future of the agri food industry all seem to point to producing for an increasing world population, yet the margin at farm level continues to tighten. The underlying message from the meeting is that until such time as the powerful links further up the supply chain, namely processors and in particular multiple retailers are properly addressed and the food margins are shared in a more balanced way, ongoing crisis at farm level will continue and the family farm structure as we know it will continue to be undermined.

Farmers Must Not be Used to Subsidise Water Charge Reductions

11th December 2014

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said that it would be intolerable if current water charges for farmers were to increase as a result of the formation of Irish Water.

“Farmers have been paying for water for years, either via the public supply system, through group water schemes or through the cost of providing their own supply, and have put up with it,” said Mr. Kent. “However, there is concern that these charges may increase under Irish Water, something that would be completely unacceptable. Farmers must not be used to subsidise cuts to the original planned charges for households.”

“Drystock farmers in particular have taken huge financial hits in recent years, and any increase in their water charges would be a step too far.”

ICSA Welcomes Minister’s Statement on Beef Agreement

December 10th, 2014

ICSA has welcomed Minister Coveney’s reminder that as part of the recent beef roundtable deal, processors agreed that there would be no dual base pricing for steers and heifers in individual plants regardless of breed, age, weight or quality assurance status.

“In the light of recent reports of factories quoting different base prices for non-quality assured animals, the Minister’s statement is welcome,” said ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan. “It is vitally important that all stakeholders adhere to and fully implement both the letter and the spirit of the agreement if farmers are to have any faith in the process.”

New Penalty Point Offences Disproportionately Affect Rural Communities

9th December 2014

ICSA president Patrick Kent has hit out at new penalty point offences which will disproportionately penalise young drivers in rural areas.

“Making it a penalty point offence for learner drivers to drive unaccompanied is a draconian measure,” said Mr. Kent. “Many of the journeys made by the children of farmers would involve driving around to out farms and so on, but any use this might be to their parents is completely negated by having to be accompanied.”

“There is also the social aspect,” he continued. “Young people in rural areas generally don’t have access to public transport. We are now in a situation where a young driver will have to bring a parent or older sibling with them if they want to meet up with a girlfriend or boyfriend. How realistic is this?”

“The recent decision to prosecute farmers for carrying children under the age of 7 in a tractor cab shows just how out of touch with reality the rule makers are. ICSA believes that education is the way to reduce farm deaths and we have repeatedly called for farm safety to be a compulsory element of the primary school curriculum.”