Ireland has committed to producing at least 16% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and the next Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is said to be fully aligned with the need to prioritise climate action. Farmers looking to benefit from green initiatives are being urged to attend Energy and Rural Business Show, taking place at Hub at Cillin Hill, Kilkenny on 23 and 24 October 2019.


This year the show is boosting its offering by including both Energy Now Expo and Rural Business Expo, so farmers can hear from experts on diversification and the growing opportunities and grants available for on-farm renewables.


Representing the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) at Energy and Rural and Business Show Ireland is Michael O’Donoghue, who will deliver a talk on the solar PV grants available under the TAMS on-farm investment scheme and energy efficiency.


Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D. stated that “energy efficiency and deployment of renewable technologies at farm level are important steps that farmers can make as a positive contribution to decarbonising our economy and society. And at the same time can save money while meeting their own and local energy needs. My Department is supporting this through grant aid for efficient technologies such as air source heat pumps and solar PV.”


Headline speakers and topics at the show include:


  • Ray Langton, programme manager, Renewable Heat Scheme, SEAI
    • The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH)
  • Barry Caslin, energy & rural development specialist, Teagasc
    • An overview of the renewable energy opportunities available to agriculture
  • Jason Hannon, renewable gas business development, Gas Network Ireland
    • A look at the future of the biomethane market
  • Marie Donnelly, chair, Renewable Energy Ireland
    • The Climate Action Plan – how can these targets be achieved?
  • Declan Rice, CEO, Kilkenny Leader Partnership
    • How LEADER grant funding can help you develop your business
  • Keith Harlin, geothermal geologist, Geothermal Association of Ireland
    • Is ground source heating for you?
  • Alison Corbally, director of breeding and programmes, Horse Sport Ireland
    • How to breed performance horses
  • Pat McCormack, president, ICMSA
    • Carbon Tax – what you need to know
  • David Walsh-Kemmis, Ballykilcavan Brewing Company
    • How to create a commercial brewery
  • Joseph Spollen, biomass supply manager, Bord Na Mona
    • Supplying biomass fuel – the customer perspective


The Big Debate

For the first time, the show is launching ‘The Big Debate’ on the continued growth of the renewable energy and low carbon sectors in Ireland, which will see industry experts discuss key topics and questions submitted by farmers on the run up to the event. Agribusiness specialist from the Irish Farming Journal, Lorcan Allen, will moderate the debate, and confirmed speakers on the panel include Cllr Malcolm Noonan, spokesperson for Regional Development & Rural Affairs from the Green Party, Tom Short, renewables project team chairman, IFA, Paddy Phelan, 3CEA manager, and PJ McCarthy, RGFI chairman.


To submit your burning question for The Big Debate, visit:


Energy Now Expo

If you’re looking to find out more about the opportunities available to farmers in renewable energy, Energy Now Expo showcases the latest technologies and services from expert speakers and exhibitors from across the renewables sector, including AD and biogas, biomass, energy crops, energy management, heat pumps, hydro, solar and energy storage.


Rural Business Expo

Farmers and landowners looking to future proof their businesses through diversification, whether it be making better use of current assets or launching a completely new business venture, Rural Business Expo features ‘How-To Workshops’ from speakers who have diversified their businesses and can offer guidance, as well as exhibitors with refreshingly practical and robust diversification propositions.

The event is run in association with the Irish Farming Association (IFA) and Teagasc and is supported by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA), The Alpaca Association of Ireland, Macra Na Feirme, the Renewable Gas Forum of Ireland (RGFI), the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), Three Counties Energy Agency (3CEA), The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) and The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA).

Energy and Rural Business Show is free to attend, and places can be booked today:




14 MAY 2018

The ICSA sheep committee held a protest today (Monday) at the Department of Agriculture headquarters to reflect growing anger among sheep farmers about EID tagging, as well as the clean sheep policy. ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks said that the Minister’s unilateral decision to impose mandatory electronic tags (EID) on lambs destined for factories was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“There is neither rhyme nor reason to the Minister’s decision to impose mandatory electronic tagging on lambs going direct to the factory. The traceability requirement is that they are tagged before they leave the farm. A few hours later, the lamb is processed with the ear disposed of and the costly electronic ear tag is in the skip.

The Minister talks about new markets but the reality is that the vast majority of our lamb will continue to go to EU markets which are under-supplied. There is no need to add cost to our lamb for existing markets and the reality is that in the biggest EU market – France – lamb imports will always be discounted compared to native French lamb regardless of what we put in lambs’ ears.

The main marketing logic was allegedly for the US market but this won’t be the first Minister to talk up the potential of the US market in vain. If we can’t make inroads there with grass fed beef, we are highly unlikely to fare much better with sheepmeat.

This decision will add some €2.5 million cost to sheep farmers, based on additional costs of €1/lamb and a throughput of some 2.5 million lambs/ annum. However, the average profit per lamb is about €14, based on an annual average price of €100 or €4.80/kg over the past five years.  It costs the average Teagasc profit monitor farmer €86 to produce a lamb. So when the Minister adds €1 cost to a lamb producing €14 profit, he is imposing a 7% income cut. This compares badly with EU proposals to cut CAP direct payments by 4%.”

Mr Brooks added that the proposal for a one-off payment of €50 was really rubbing farmers up the wrong way. “Does the Minister really believe we can be bought off for €50? You’d give it to a youngster for their holy communion but it doesn’t make up for a permanently imposed cost leading to a 7% cut in sheep farmers’ profits. That’s on lowland farms. The situation is even worse for hill farmers who are being asked to fund an extra euro when selling store lambs from the hills that might only be worth €20-30.”

The protest is also on the back of farmer anger over the clean sheep policy which has been imposed without any concern for the problems it has caused in factories this year. “We need an urgent review of the implementation of the policy as we cannot allow a repeat of the chaos we have seen on occasion in factories with whole consignments of lambs being sent off for shearing. It is incumbent on the Department to pull all stakeholders together to develop a consensus on what will work in practice. It is especially important  that Teagasc develop and trial  systems of production that will ensure farmers can comply with requirements. Farmers need certainty and there is a lot of anger about the lottery of sending lambs in to a factory not knowing what will happen to them.”

ICSA wants an urgent meeting with the Minister and the association is insisting that it’s back to the drawing board for compulsory EID for lambs and for the clean sheep policy.



2 MAY 2018

An information night on the subject of ‘Rural Isolation, Mental Health & & Learning to Cope’ will take place at the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen this Thursday, 3 May at 8pm. The meeting has been organised by an Garda Siochana and will feature ICSA Rural Development chairman Seamus Sherlock as a guest speaker. Previous meetings on the subject of rural isolation and mental health in farming have attracted large crowds.

Speaking ahead of the event Mr Sherlock said, “We are on a rescue mission for a lot of farmers who are at their wits end. Hopefully we are coming to the end of the most difficult winter many of us can remember. It’s time now to draw on the positives and look after each other and look to the future together.”

“It is important for ICSA to be present to support this drive to highlight the concerns about mental health in farming. The closure of local shops, post offices, bank branches and Garda stations all have an impact and add to the sense of isolation felt in rural communities. We need to listen to farmers concerns and address these issues to keep our rural communities strong.”

Admission is free and refreshments will be served.



9 JANUARY 2018

ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has said he is concerned that live exports of sheep fell by over a quarter in 2017, compared to the previous year. Bord Bia figures that show live exports of sheep were down 26% to 35,349 in 2017 compared to 48,036 in 2016. “There is clearly a need to redouble our efforts to ensure this decline is reversed.”

“Farmers need to have the option to ship live as an alternative to dealing only with processors who very often squeeze them to the limit. The live trade is crucial to keep the dead trade honest. To this end, ICSA has been calling for the initiation of a strategic plan to drive the live export trade. Planning would involve the Department of Agriculture, Teagasc, Bord Bia, live exporters and producers all working together in order to develop a coordinated approach to adequately exploit this lucrative market.”

The importance of religious festivals on the sheep trade has also been highlighted by Bord Bia with 81% of Irish live exports in 2017 occurring in the month ahead of Eid al-Adha. Mr Brooks said, “The significance of this cannot be underestimated. Over the next few years the shifting dates of these festivals demonstrates the amount of forward planning required as each year will have different lambing requirements. To maximise the true potential of this market, the planning needs to start now.”

ICSA believes the current restrictions around the holding standstill period for sheep prior to export continues to frustrate the trade. According to Mr Brooks, “These restrictions hamper the practicalities of getting exports moving and need innovative solutions. The approach with cattle has been more flexible but the need to export sheep is every bit as urgent.”



15 November 2017

ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch today met with Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten at the COP 23 Climate Change conference in Bonn.  The ICSA man delivered a message that farming in Ireland and other EU countries should not be framed in negativity about climate change.  “ICSA strongly believes that food production should be promoted in areas where it is done efficiently.  Equally, farming must be financially sustainable. Farmers can contribute positively to climate change mitigation through sequestration and through renewable energy.”


“Therefore, we must have policies at EU and national level that deliver greater use of renewable energy produced by European farmers in a sustainable way.  We need to stand over sustainable beef and dairy production in Ireland and reject the absurd notion that reducing livestock on Irish farms does anything to help the climate when all we are doing is relocating production to other parts of the globe.”


“If we want farmers to contribute to more sustainable food and energy systems, the first and most important requirement is to ensure that farmers are financially sustainable.  Farms which are viable can re-invest to make their farms even more efficient.   Policies which support EU farmers can achieve this; policies which further undermine the viability of farms are a road to nowhere.”


14 November 2017

At a meeting with the Minister for Justice & Equality Charles Flanagan to discuss the ICSA agricultural crime survey, ICSA president Patrick Kent said that rural people want more resources in community policing, stiffer sentences for repeat offenders and closer consultation between rural stakeholders, local authorities and An Garda Siochana.


“ICSA’s National Agricultural Crime Survey undertaken in conjunction with WIT, revealed alarmingly that 45% of agricultural crime goes unreported for a variety of reasons.  These include little faith that the Gardaí have adequate resources to recover goods or catch the perpetrators and a sense that the justice system is not penalising these criminals sufficiently.  We need to see these issues addressed urgently.”


ICSA rural development chair Seamus Sherlock said he was acutely aware of many in rural areas who are afraid in their own homes.  He told the Minister it was vital that much more be done on ensuring community policing was at the heart of the Garda strategy.  “We need the local Garda to know the people, to know what’s going on and to be living close to the rural community.  This is not necessarily about Garda stations; it is about every citizen in rural Ireland knowing their local guard and having a sense that the Gardaí are never far away.”


ICSA is supportive of the CCTV initiative announced by Minister Flanagan which is making €3 million available to help install CCTV cameras.   “We need to use this funding as a first step in strategic rural areas where crime has been a problem to demonstrate that further funding will yield a positive dividend to the state in the fight against crime.  Crime is costing farmers an average €4328 and is adding to insurance costs for everybody. ICSA is urging community groups to apply for this funding.   ICSA believes that ongoing state help with maintenance of cameras will also be necessary and outlined this to the Minister.”


Due to Hurricane Ophelia, ICSA’s regional meeting scheduled to take place in the Springhill Court Hotel tonight, 16 October, at 8pm has been cancelled. The meeting will be rescheduled for another date.



27 APRIL 2017

At a meeting in Brussels yesterday (26 April) with EU chief negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier, ICSA outlined the utter importance of getting the trading relationship with the UK right in the post Brexit environment. ICSA underlined to Mr Barnier the importance of tariff free access to the UK market for the Irish beef and dairy sectors but expressed concern that all the emphasis has been placed on the Brexit divorce while the trading relationships were being long fingered.

Speaking following the meeting, ICSA president Patrick Kent said “A good interim arrangement will be critical to bridge the gap between the Brexit divorce and a long term trade agreement.”

Mr Kent concluded by saying “Mr Barnier has a very good grasp of the Irish position and we are hopeful that the EU will see that if Irish/UK trade is hindered all of Europe will suffer the consequences. If we divert significant quantities of beef or dairy from the UK to continental Europe then everyone will share our Brexit pain.

The solution therefore is for a unified EU 27 strategy to ensure tariff free access to the UK.”



1 MARCH 2017

ICSA will meet with Department of Agriculture officials this afternoon following today’s protest in opposition to the possible closure of the Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Coosan, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Speaking ahead of the meeting ICSA Westmeath chairman Dan Lynam said “We have questions as to how this ludicrous proposal could ever work. For example, should these facilities be shut down, who will cover the cost of transporting dead animals to Dublin? We also need to know how many of the labs, including Backweston, can facilitate lorry loads of dead animals without investment?”

Continuing Mr Lynam said he would be asking the review committee “In the event of an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease or any other infectious disease, what will be the implications of transporting infectious carcasses across the country? This would surely be a bio security risk. The movement of dead animals should be kept to an absolute minimum. It facilitates the spread of disease more than anything else. One has to remember that the beef and sheep trade is worth several billion to the economy and we have to protect that. We need to be prepared for any future challenges in the sector. Shipping dead carcasses around the country just makes no sense on any level.”

Also attending the meeting with the review committee will be ICSA Roscommon chairman Ger Grehan who said “Closing down the lab here in Athlone, or any other of the regional labs, would be hugely detrimental to animal welfare and short sighted in the extreme. ICSA will be keeping up the pressure to ensure the labs can continue to provide the valuable service they do.”