3rd DECMBER, 2015

The ICSA Cavan AGM will take place on Thursday, December 3rd at Hotel Kilmore, Cavan.
Guest speakers on the night will be;
Noel Harraghy, Crime Prevention Officer,
Billy Gray ICSA Rural Development Chairman,
Emmet Duffy from AW Ennis,
Edie Punch ICSA General Secretary,
John Feeley who will give a demonstration of Security Devices.
Discussions on the night will include; Rural Crime and Crime Prevention / GLAS / TAMS II / BDGP / AOB
All members welcome.


December 2nd, 2015

The ICSA Westmeath AGM will take place on Wednesday, December 2nd at Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar.
Guest speaker on the night will be Tom Stapleton of SOBAC who will discuss building up humus within soil, decreasing the use of chemicals and incresing output.
Other discussions include GLAS / BDGP / cattle and sheep prices / AOB
All members welcome.


The ICSA Carlow AGM will take place on Wednesday, December 2nd at The Lord Bagenal Hotel, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow.
Guest speaker on the night will be William Kelly of Minnock Agri. 
Discussions to include beef and sheep prices / proposed changes to sheep tagging / AOB
All members welcome.


30th November, 2015

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has accused the ABP group of colluding in treachery with UK supermarkets to completely undermine any prospect of live exports of cattle to the UK.  “News that the ABP group are introducing a new price grid in England which imposes a £1 sterling/ kg cut for cattle finished in England but which were born in Ireland is shocking.  It is manifestly a blatant attempt by retailers and processors to kill off any prospects of live exports and the motivation is to keep farmers in chains.”

UK retailers have claimed that UK consumers cannot understand or accept cattle reared in Ireland, finished in England.  “Where is the independent consumer research to back up this claim?” asked Mr Phelan.  “Consumers in Italy, who can hardly be described as less discerning than British consumers, have no difficulty.  Hence we have live exports to Italy.  It is clear that ICSA’s success in getting a live route opened by Stena to the UK has caused concern among beef processors who are doing everything in their power to close live exports.”

It is clear that Minister Coveney needs to take a very strong line on this.  It is absolutely futile to be out in Africa or anywhere else trying to open new markets for beef when the processors are trying to take away any prospect of a reasonable margin for cattle producers in this country.”

“ICSA is now calling on the Minister to suspend all efforts to open up new markets for beef and to instead concentrate on opening up as many live export markets as possible.  It is an embarrassment to see a Minister working so hard for beef factories when they are showing such contempt for the livelihoods of ordinary farmers here.”

ICSA has already attended meetings in Brussels to find solutions to this labelling issue and will continue to work to find a way through the impasse.  It is clear that country of origin labelling for beef is being misused in a way not envisaged by legislators.   It again shows the need for robust regulation of the food chain at EU level.  The EU Commission must face up to the fact that the Single European Market is being circumvented by greedy retailers.  Free movement of goods is a fundamental principle of the European Union; the question now is whether our Government and Brussels are going to stand idly by and allow it to be destroyed by greed.”  



November 25th, 2015

ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan has called for an immediate convening of the beef forum to address what he says is “the shocking price differential between Irish and UK beef” and the fact that there has been no movement on the 30 month issue.

“The beef forum must convene; substantive issues remain for beef farmers which have to be urgently addressed. Progress has been too slow and farmers continue to struggle”, he said.

Mr Phelan also said that while exports to the US have been going well, there is no real sign of a benefit to farmers, while the issue of reviewing the grid has been put on the long finger. Factories are again threatening to crucify farmers on weights.

“The impression is that Minister Coveney has lost his enthusiasm for the beef forum but beef farmers need to see their issues being resolved. There is no sense of partnership between factories and producers and profits are a one sided affair”, he concluded.



24th November, 2015

ICSA president Patrick Kent has today said that farmers can no longer carry the burden of levies deducted from livestock prices which are failing to deliver a viable income.  He is calling for the end of non-statutory levies which are deducted without the express permission of farmers when they supply livestock to factories and marts. 

“ICSA does not receive a red cent of its income from levies deducted from farmers’ cheques. Nonetheless we are delivering strong representation for farmers at National and EU level on a wide range of issues including TTIP, regulation of the food chain, 30 month limits for beef cattle, and fighting against unfair penalties imposed as a result of inspections”.

Mr Kent added that it was also time for a full value for money review of statutory levies. “Disease levels have dropped significantly yet this is not reflected in the levy.  Farmers see little benefit in Bord Bia levies when the differential between Irish and British beef prices is over a euro a kilo on R grade steers”.



6th November, 2015

ICSA president Patrick Kent has warmly welcomed the Supreme Court decision to overturn the High Court order upholding the IDA’s right to compulsorily purchase order a Kildare farmer’s home and farm.  The farm in question is located adjacent to the Intel plant in Co Kildare.  “This is an important decision which suggests that the right of the state and state agencies to use CPOs is not unlimited.  ICSA believes that there is no reason for CPOs to be used to assist commercial ventures in rural areas and that there is no shortage of farmers who might be happy to sell land if a suitably attractive offer was made.”

Mr Kent went on to say that CPOs strike terror into the heart of most farmers and they should only ever be contemplated for essential national infrastructure.  “I cannot imagine why there would be any reason for the IDA to acquire a farm and home against the wishes of the owner when there is no shortage of undeveloped NAMA sites.”

There have been various examples of threats of CPOs being used against farmers over recent years in order to facilitate commercial ventures.   Farmers who opposed the Greenway in Galway were also given reason to fear CPOs for a tourism project.  “This has to stop.  CPOs should not be used to aid the profitability of any commercial body.  Where a project is proposed, the farmer is surely entitled to say no.  If a farmer wants to expand, he cannot CPO his neighbour; why should other commercial entities be treated any differently?”

In practice, commercial ventures should be required to compete for land on the same basis as every other commercial venture.  If the IDA wishes to assist specific commercial ventures, then it needs to look at other ways of acquiring farmland outside of the CPO process.  Given the amount of undeveloped, and underdeveloped sites, along with significant tracts of NAMA land, there should be no reason at all to resort to compulsory purchase of farmland,” concluded Mr Kent.



4th November, 2015

The ICSA took the opportunity to put beef and sheep issues firmly back on the agenda at the hearing of the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine yesterday, (Tues November 3rd). ICSA president Patrick Kent set out the challenges facing the beef and sheep sectors, warning that the difficulties in the dairy sector cannot deflect attention from the long term difficulties of beef and sheep.

Referring to the proposed Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP), Mr. Kent made it clear that the beef industry was very vulnerable with beef coming under threat with several bi-lateral trade talks in progress. A recent impact analysis on TTIP conducted by Copenhagen Economics concluded that beef was the likely loser whereas dairy might gain. “ICSA is very concerned that the cumulative impact of potential deals with Canada, USA, Australia/New Zealand along with the ever present threat of South-American beef leaves Irish farming in a very vulnerable position”.

Mr. Kent then went on to criticise the inequities in the food chain. “The finances of every farmer are very transparent but we know nothing of the margins made by multinational retailers when it comes to key products such as beef and lamb. We have over regulation of farmers but hardly any regulation further down the chain”. He called for the setting up of a European Authority or regulator to investigate who gets what from the food chain. He also called for greater scrutiny of the processing sector referring specifically to angle of neck cut and level of trimmings of the carcass in meat plants.

ICSA also believes that factories should not be allowed to own and control feedlots as they are having a huge impact on the store and beef trade and farmers are the losers. This is the type of thing that should be scrutinised under competition law. Mr. Kent also expressed frustration that the beef forum has failed to resolve the 30 month issue.

Turning to sheep, Mr. Kent said ICSA is calling for a sheep scheme to be introduced which could be funded up to 25m per annum within the Rural Development programme limits, or with a small top up from exchequer funds. ICSA is also concerned that EID sheep tagging of lambs destined for slaughter will be very uneconomic for many sheep farmers.

In conclusion, Mr. Kent urged the committee to keep beef and lamb to the forefront of the political agenda and he pleaded for a more open and transparent debate on the GM issue and he sought information as to who lobbied against the GM opt-out.



30th October, 2015

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said we must remain vigilant on the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).  “An increasing number of consumers are turning away from any foodstuff produced from, or with GMO ingredients”, he said.  Mr Kent was speaking following the European Parliament’s rejection of the Commission’s proposal that would have enabled any member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of EU approved GMO food or feed.

“People care about what is on their plates and consumers are wary of eating foods that contain genetically modified ingredients”. The issue of GMOs also encompasses animal feed, he said.  “We need to be producing as many animal products as possible fed on GM free feed. We pride ourselves on the quality and purity of our meat products and the feed industry needs to gear up for farmers who want GMO free rations. For instance, there has been a premium for cattle fed on GM free rations in Italy.”

Mr Kent concluded that “lowering our standards by accepting the use of GMOs is definitely the wrong path to choose. The market for pure and trustworthy forms of food is here to stay”. He called on the feed and compounding sector here to make GM free rations available to farmers wishing to use them.  Mr. Kent concluded that every effort must be made at governmental level to protect the integrity of Irish meat and all agricultural products produced in this country and pointed to the necessity of further debate on this issue.



30th October, 2015

ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has welcomed clarification that existing sheds can be converted into slatted sheds under TAMS II but has called for greater flexibility in grant aiding the upgrading of old sheds.

Mr. Brooks was commenting on the confirmation by Minister Coveney in response to a question from the opposition spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív regarding the potential to convert existing loose sheds into slatted sheds.

“At last, we are seeing some signs of a common sense approach to cost effective investment on farms.  However, while there may be some farmers who can find a safe and practical design for converting to a slatted shed, there are many more farmers who have existing slatted or loose sheds who need to upgrade them.  I am thinking about sheds built back in the seventies or eighties where there is a need to replace the sheeting on the roof or retrofit galvanised gates and internal barriers and divisions, as well as water facilities.”

This kind of work urgently needs to be done on many farms and it would be much more beneficial for many cattle and sheep farmers for whom new buildings are out of the question.  We need grants that are practical and cost effective for the majority of farmers.  Farmers in their fifties and sixties still need good facilities but they are at a stage in their farming career where expensive new facilities with a long payback period are not realistic.”