At the ICSA 25th anniversary celebrations, held in Kilkenny on Friday (7 Sep), the association announced a new initiative to support farm families deeply affected by stress arising from the fodder crisis. The ICSA Fodder Crisis Family Support Fund aims to reach out to those farmers who cannot cope with all of the pressures and worries created by lack of fodder.

On the night, ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch explained that fund was designed to provide help to families who needed one on one meetings, and working out a plan for to help them get through the winter. “We are not talking about buying or subsidising fodder here; we are talking about helping people to deal with stress, mental pressure, depression and also how to work out a strategy to deal with the challenges of making up the fodder deficit.”

The ICSA dinner was preceded by two break-out meetings, one on fodder strategies facilitated by Martin Ryan of Gain nutrition and one on mental health. The mental health meeting, facilitated by Zurich Farm Insurance under the banner “Tackle Your Feelings” saw farmer of the year Pete Hynes outline the importance of strategies to achieve work / life balance. Also attended by Tackle Your Feelings ambassador, former Irish rugby legend John Hayes, the session emphasised how farmers need to put family and mental health first.

Eddie Punch explained that the two sessions brought together the objectives of the new ICSA initiative. “ICSA is putting a proportion of the membership fee towards having the resources to reach out and help those families who can’t cope. We will have meetings around the country over the coming months and will liaise with other agencies to find the farmers who are suffering the most. We would urge any farmer or their family who can’t cope to contact us and we will try our best to link them up with professional people who can find solutions.”

ICSA Kilkenny chairman Ger O’Brien added, “It was an enormous honour that the association chose Kilkenny to host this great event. At the same time we are acutely aware that we are navigating difficult times. In 2018 we have had the perfect storm of fodder shortage, labour shortage and money shortage. Farmers are hurting and the job of ICSA is to get out there and help them and speak up for them.”




ICSA Animal Health and Welfare committee chairman Hugh Farrell has said that ICSA wants the TB Stakeholder forum to recognise the huge burden the disease has imposed on farmers.  Speaking ahead of the inaugural meeting due to take place this week (Wednesday 5 September), Mr Farrell said that while total eradication by 2030 was the key objective, this can only be achieved with a properly funded programme which tackles all causes. “The forum must help chart a future direction that will be sensitive to farmers’ needs while being effective in terms of TB eradication.”

Mr Farrell said that there can be no let-up on wildlife sources. “The role of wildlife is integral to any strategy to eliminate TB. We therefore caution against moving too quickly to badger vaccination over badger culling. ICSA also insists that in counties such as Wicklow, control and culling of wild deer will be essential if we are serious about the 2030 target.”

On plans to display herd TB history, Mr Farrell was adamant that: “ICSA opposes herd health history being displayed in marts because it would undermine the business of such farmers.”

The ICSA chair is also very insistent that the independence and expertise of valuers should be respected by the Department. “The Department has recourse to a second opinion as do farmers and any other pressure on valuers is unacceptable. The value of top quality suckler and dairy cows, show calibre stock and pedigree animals cannot be ascertained by looking at average mart prices. We are very concerned that some valuers feel under pressure from the Department when valuing these kind of stock.”

Regarding the funding of the programme, Mr Farrell said that the costs of the programme ignore the very real costs imposed on farmers. “An outbreak of TB causes immense loss, as well as stress, for farmers. However, the Department figures on the cost of the programme do not calculate the cost in term of time for farmers caused by the annual herd test requirement. ICSA conservatively estimates that this costs farmers in the order of €12.5 million per annum to cover the labour costs of rounding up the herd and putting the animals through the crush each year. In addition, farmers contribute about €32 million per annum in testing charges and the BDE levy. The eradication of TB is not just a benefit to farmers but to the wider economy and this should be reflected in public funding.”

ICSA will also be calling for a better hardship fund for farmers and more flexibility around payments, which are currently restricted to winter months. “As we have seen this year, not being able to sell stock can be a very costly business when grass growth stops.”



As part of ICSA’s 25th Anniversary Celebration on the evening of 7 September at Hotel Kilkenny, the fodder crisis and mental health will be the topic of two breakout sessions held beforehand at 6pm.

The Fodder Challenge

How can farmers deal with the current grass shortage and winter fodder planning? 

Martin Ryan, of the Technical Feed Support division with Glanbia Ireland, will be on hand to discuss technical and planning advice for livestock farmers impacted by the drought. Participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences and ideas on ways to overcome the fodder challenge, and the necessary supports needed.

Kindly sponsored by Gain Nutrition.

Tackle – Your Feelings

Tackling mental wellbeing in the farming community

Tackle Your Feelings is a mental wellbeing campaign run by Rugby Players Ireland in partnership with Zurich. This 45-minute session will feature interactive discussion around the specific mental and emotional challenges faced by farmers and offer tips and techniques for proactively improving mental wellbeing, well before any challenge becomes a crisis. The session will be facilitated by Sport and Performance Psychologist and Tackle Your Feelings Campaign Manager, Créde Sheehy-Kelly.

Kindly sponsored by Zurich.


30 AUGUST 2018

The Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers’ Association will be hosting its 25th anniversary dinner celebration In Kilkenny on 7th September. The evening is to celebrate ICSA’s achievements over the last 25 years and to honour those founding cattle and sheep farmers who dedicated themselves to establishing a professional association that would be the voice for the drystock sector in Ireland.

EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan will be the special guest at the event which is taking place in Hotel Kilkenny.

Joining the Commissioner will be Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed TD and a host of the association’s former presidents as well as members past and present and a wide range of local agri business interests.

Following dinner, the worlds of sport and farming will come together with a panel discussion hosted by RTE’s Marty Morrissey. Kilkenny hurler TJ Reid will be joined by Clodagh Cassin who is a member of the Irish Women’s hockey panel and is the star goalkeeper for UCD where she studies agricultural science. The line-up is completed by Irish rugby legends John ‘The Bull’ Hayes & ‘Tullow Tank’ Sean O’Brien.

ICSA president Patrick Kent, a well-known Belgian Blue breeder from New Ross in Co Wexford, expects an excellent mix of farming discussion combined with a great social night out.

Mr Kent added that having a local as EU Commissioner definitely has its benefits. “Now in his fifth year as EU Commissioner, Mr Hogan is currently in the process of reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) so there will no doubt be plenty to discuss on the night. He has made a lot of progress in tackling unfair trading practices in the food chain and his CAP proposals will attract a lot of debate, but ICSA is keeping pressure on the Government to support a fully funded CAP. Without adequate funding, no CAP reform can be a success and this is a matter for the EU heads of state. We will continue to engage constructively with Commissioner Hogan as well and the night will enable any interested farmers to meet him and put forward their views.”

All farmers and their families are welcome to attend and a limited number of tickets are still available.

For further details, see our event programme,


Regular event updates can be found on www.icsaireland.com

For ticket enquiries, please contact ICSA on 057 8662120 or email info@icsaireland.com


24 AUGUST 2018

ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed progress on easing up GLAS restrictions in order to enable farmers to produce more fodder in the coming weeks and months.  “ICSA pushed very hard to allow Low Input Permanent Pasture ground be used for silage production. It seems that the EU Commission agrees in principle with a request from the Minister, and that definite confirmation should be forthcoming very soon. It is also proposed that off- takes be permitted on a once off basis for 2018 in the period 1 September 2018 (after the nesting season) to 1 December 2018, from land under the Environmental Management of Fallow land measure.”

“These decisions are only common sense given the extreme shortage of fodder and potentially bring 260,000 hectares into play in the battle to ensure adequate fodder for the winter.”



23 AUGUST 2018

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock last night reiterated the association’s position that it will support all landowners affected by the proposed Shannon to Dublin water pipeline. Mr Sherlock was a speaking at a public meeting on the issue held in Nenagh last night.

Speaking following the meeting Mr Sherlock said, “As was evidenced tonight, there is a lot of disquiet among farmers in this region about the proposed water pipe; It is quite clear the whole logic of the project needs to be critically evaluated by the political process before any public money is committed.”

“We will never have clarity around future water requirements until the myriad of problems in Dublin are fixed. Irish Water currently loses 49% of its own product through leaks. It makes absolutely no sense to pipe water half way across the country for it to leak back into the groundwater through faulty pipes and for it all to cost the princely sum of several billion euros.”

“Farmers are sick with worry about the potential impact of a pipeline being forced through their farms with the potential for extreme short term disruption and long term devaluing of the land. While we are not against progress we are against waste and the case for this pipeline seems very dubious given all the evidence that they need to fix leakage levels in Dublin, which are scandalously high by international standards. This has to be a priority before any money is wasted in pumping more water to a chronically leaky system.”

“I would also like to make quite clear that this is not just an issue affecting farmers, the whole community is affected and are abjectly opposed to wasting vast sums of money on this. ”



22 AUGUST 2018

ICSA president Patrick Kent has welcomed the announcement by Minister Creed that €4.25 million has been allocated for the introduction of a Fodder Import Support Measure. “ICSA has been calling for this and other measures to be put in place at the earliest possible point as part of the combined effort required to offset major fodder difficulties down the track.”

However Mr Kent said, “While we are in favour of importing fodder, we must ensure that it is of high quality and at a fair price. Vigilance on quality and price towards imported feed must also extend to cereals. Profit margins on suckler and sheep farms are practically non-existent at this point so if these enterprises are to have any hope of surviving it is imperative that access to quality feed at a reasonable price is secured.”

“On home ground, we need to take a sensible approach and allow Low-Input Grassland to be baled, sooner rather than later.”

Concluding Mr Kent impressed upon millers to deliver the best possible value to farmers at this difficult time and reiterated that profiteering by meat plants must not be tolerated, “It is incumbent on all players to protect the industry as a whole. We will not stand for primary producers being taken advantage of at this vulnerable time.”



21 AUGUST 2018

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has said members of the public should not assume that they can use farmland for recreational purposes. Mr Sherlock was speaking following an incident in Waterford where an ICSA member discovered part of their farm had been left damaged following an unsanctioned party around a campfire.

“In this case, electric fencing was pulled down and the posts then used in the campfire. Removing fencing is no joke and could easily have caused harm to livestock or indeed to other members of the pubic.”

“In addition, the fire was set close to gorse which could have ignited given the dry weather; not to mention the litter, bottles and the remnants of sleeping bags that were left behind. This incident illustrates the difficulties facing farmers when members of the public use farmland for leisure purposes without consent. While ICSA is very open to negotiated access, a farm is a workplace and there is no right to trespass on it.”

“ICSA is in favour of bringing the countryside to life and for as many people as possible to enjoy all that rural Ireland has to offer. To this end, ICSA will be involved in formulating the Code of Best Practice for Greenways over the coming months.”

“As we know from experience with Greenways, goodwill on behalf of landowners is paramount, but incidents like this will no doubt make farmers even more wary. It also is a reminder to policy makers that you cannot go down the road of CPOs and disregard the legitimate concerns of landowners.”

“I would encourage all those enjoying rural Ireland for recreational purposes to be mindful of livestock and property around them. The business of farming is going on all around them so it is essential that farmland is respected and not treated as a playground.”



17 AUGUST 2018

A farmers meeting hosted by Meath & Louth ICSA will take place next Thursday 23 August in the Meath Hill Community Centre, Meath Hill, Drumconrath Co Meath. The event will commence at 7.30 pm.

Guest speakers on the night will be:

Matt Carthy MEP – CAP & Brexit

Walter Fox IFAC – Farmer Tax Issues & Cash Flow

John Halley ICSA Suckler Chair – Finding the Right Supports for Suckler Farmers

 Seamus Sherlock ICSA Rural Development Chair – Facing the Fodder Challenge Now & for the Future

All farmers are invited to attend.

For further information, please contact ICSA Meath chairman Emmet Mullen on 087 2161802 or ICSA Louth chairman Gavin Carberry on 086 3189003.



16 AUGUST 2018

To celebrate 25 years ‘Fighting for Farmers’, ICSA is hosting its 25th Anniversary Gala dinner at Hotel Kilkenny on 7 September.

Special guests and keynote speakers on the evening will include:

Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development


Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine.


For further details, see our event programme,


Regular event updates can be found on www.icsaireland.com

For ticket enquiries, please contact ICSA on 057 8662120 or email info@icsaireland.com

Limited early bird tickets priced from €75 are available now.