National Council Reports May 2020

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National Council Reports May 2020

Market Report

  • Latest Beef price update 21/5/2020. Steer base price €3.60/kg. Heifers €3.60/3.70. Young bull’s R/O €3.60/3.70. Cows P/O/R/U €2.90/€3.00/€3.20/kg.
  • This time last year prices were running 25/30c/kg higher.
  • Cattle prices continue to strengthen driven by tighter supplies and strong retail demand. Factories chasing tight supplies, offering deals which include the full cost of transport, removal of weight restrictions and additional price top ups. The supply balance has swung in favour of the farmer.
  • Supplies. Supplies totalled 26,911 for week ending May 17th., down about 5,900 on the same week last year. Kill to date down 31,683 on 2019 levels. Y Bulls are back 30k, steers are up +10k, heifers are down -6k and cows are back -15k. However, when calves are removed, the overall adult kill is back closer to 46,000 head.
  • Numbers over the coming weeks expected to remain tight until the first of the grass cattle set to arrive.
  • Official Prices. DAFM reported Irish R3 steer prices for w/e May 10th was €3.67/kg incl vat. Heifers R3 €3.70/kg. Y Bulls O/R/U €3.33/€3.52/€3.61/kg. Cows P/O/R €2.72/€2.80/€2.99/kg.
  • UK cattle prices for w/e May 10th R3 steers at £3.31/kg, equivalent to €3.92/kg incl vat. R3 heifers at £3.30, equivalent to €3.91/kg and O3 cows at £2.43, equivalent to €2.87 incl vat.
  • Official cattle prices reported to the EU Commission on May 10th 2020. R3 Young Bulls c/kg excl vat; EU Average€3.40/kg, Germany €3.37/kg, France €3.64/kg, Spain €3.46/kg, Austria €3.51/kg Italy €3.67/kg Poland €2.62/kg. Steer Prices; Ireland €3.48/kg, UK €3.76/kg.
  • EU Young bull prices are down 1.84c/kg on the week and EU steers are up 3.3/kg on the previous week, with cows down 2.0c/kg and heifers down 1.0c/kg.
  • The latest Bord Bia Price Tracking data for R3 grades for w/e May 9th.

 

  • The resumption of some manufacturing plants and some reopening of food service at EU level has helped the trade. The reopening of McDonalds and Supermacs drive-through helped the cow trade.
  • APS. Irish processors applied for only 20 tonnes of APS. Total applications across the EU of 706 tonnes with 400t from Poland, 230t from Holland, 46t from Spain and 10t from Austria.
  • Live Exports. 4,648 cattle were exported in the week commencing 04/5/2020, 3,822 to EU (Except NI). Live exports for 2020 amount to 144,977 compared to 186,276 in 2019.
  • Calf exports of 112,383 year to date.
  • There were considerable difficulties with the Algerian live export trade over recent weeks, involving loading delays, payment difficulties and delays on the first shipment. IFA assisted up to about 15 farmers getting paid in full.
  • When the boat, the MV Sarah returned for the second shipment, difficulties occurred between the exporter and the DAFM on horned cattle, individual weighing and withdrawal periods on medications.
  • Working with the exporter and the DAFM, IFA asked Minister Creed to intervene directly, which he did and all of these issues were subsequently resolved but shipments were delayed and along with TB difficulties on some farms the exporter was unable to proceed and cancelled the shipment. The livestock carrier has left Ireland empty.
  • IFA Payment Policy. Insist on payment on the day, or ensure that you are selling through an outlet where payment is guaranteed or secure.
  • Keep up to date on all IFA work on ifa.ie/covid19.

Beef Taskforce

  • Chairman Michael Dowling wrote to IFA this week with an update on the various issues including the Grant Thornton reports into specifications and a breakdown of the beef price across the chain.

Marts

  • IFA has called for the marts to be reopened as soon as possible. IFA also pushing for support for the marts.

BEEP-S

  • Just over 27,000 farmers applied for the BEEP-S scheme, following an intensive campaign by IFA. It is estimated that some c600,000 cows are involved, which will require funding of c€52m as opposed to the €35m allocated, if a linear cut to the payment rates of €90 per cow on the first 10 and €80 on the remainder are to be avoided.

Support for Beef Farmers

  • Finishers Income. Finishers are still shipping serious losses. IFA will continue to push Minister Creed, the Government and the EU Commission hard to secure a direct payment for finishers to cover the COVID-19 and Brexit related losses on cattle sold this year.
  • At the EU Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels Minister Creed sought exceptional aid for livestock producers under Articles 219 & 221 of CMO due to serious falls in prices. However, IFA is strongly of the view Minister Creed and the EU Commission must secure new money to deal with the COVID crisis.
  • IFA continue to lobby TDs and push Minister Creed and Government for a direct payment scheme to make up for the COVID and Brexit related cattle price losses incurred this Spring, including release of the €24m in unspent BEAM funding to assist beef finishers, who have incurred losses in the order of €200 per head.

Bord Bia Grass Based Beef and PGI status

  • Bord Bia has prepared proposals for an Irish Grass Fed Beef and PGI status application.
    In summary the proposals cover animals who meet the following key criteria;
    • The majority of feed from grass (90% grass or grass forage throughout the animal’s lifetime)
    • Spend greater part of their life grazing (minimum of 220 days per year).
    • Steers and heifers up to 36 months of age, Grade O- or better and fat score 2+ to 4+.
    • Beef cows up to 120 months with conformation of O+ or better and fat score 2+ to 5.
    • Born, reared, finished and slaughtered in the geographical area.

 Budget 2021

  • 2019 Brexit Beef Price Losses

In line with the methodology used to calculate BEAM 1, IFA has calculated Brexit related cattle prices losses for beef farmers who sold cattle between May 2019 (when BEAM 1 ended) and December 31 2019.

These calculations compared 2015 cattle prices(pre-Brexit) with 2019 prices.

2019 – Brexit related price losses from May 12th to Dec 31st 2019 (BEAM II) = €160m.

  • 2020 Brexit and COVID-19 Beef Price Losses

Since January 2020 finisher have continued to encounter Brexit related cattle price losses. However, from mid-March finishers were hit with a second wave of COVID-19 market disturbance beef price losses, which compounded their overall losses.

Using the same methodology IFA has calculated the Brexit related and COVID-19 related beef price losses as follow from Jan 1st 2020 to May 17th 2020 as follows.

Brexit related price losses: €89.8m

COVID-19 related price losses: €21.2m

Overall Brexit/COVID-19 losses: €111m up to May 17th 2020.

 2020 – Brexit and COVID-19 related beef price losses from Jan 1st to May 17th. 2020= €111m.

  • Support for Suckers

The national suckler cow herd of almost 1 million cows is the backbone of Ireland’s beef and livestock sector worth up to €3bn, providing top quality beef to make Ireland the fifth largest beef exporter in the world. The suckler beef sector also delivers essential socio-economic and environmental services and public goods, as well as providing a major carbon sink.

The support schemes for the suckler cow (BDGP and BEEP) have proven to be essential in terms of economic support and in improving efficiencies on environmental performance and delivery.

IFA proposes:

  • Suckler farmers need a targeted payment of €300 per cow, facilitated by a combination of CAP and national funding.
  • For 2020, a total of 27,000 suckler farmers have applied for the BEEP-S scheme, with up to 600,000 cows. At the payment rates of €90 on the first 10 cows and €80 on the remainder, the funding costs of this scheme will be €52m in 2020, as opposed to the €35m allocated in Oct 2019. Therefore, this scheme will need a budget injection of an additional €17m for 2020
  • The last annual payment under the current BDGP scheme is due in Nov/Dec 2020 and the BEEP-S scheme is an annual scheme.
  • For 2021, the IFA is proposing the BDGP is renewed and simplified with funding increased from €45m to €90m pa and the BEEP-S scheme is funded to the tune of €52m pa.
  • This would provide total funding of €142m pa for sucklers and enable payment rates of €290 per cow on the first 10 cows and €250 per cow on the remainder

Activity Since Last Council

  • IFA National Livestock Meeting May 11th.
  • Meetings on line with Minister Coveney on Brexit, DAFM, Live shippers, Factories, Bord Bia, MII, ICBF and others.
  • Intensive IFA lobby of all politicians on the need for EU support on COVID-19 crisis, National support for COVID and Brexit losses, live exports, €300 per suckler cow support and Government formation, the MFF and CAP Budget.
  • Meeting with Bord Bia on Sustainability proposals, which have beef postponed, Grass-fed Beef and PGI status and moving Quality Assurance audits on line.
  • On-going work with marts on re-opening and COVID-19 protocols and procedures.
  • Keep up to date on all IFA work on ifa.ie/covid19.

Bovine Project.

  • IFA is involved with Teagasc, farm organisations and research and advisory bodies across 10 EU member states in an EU funded Innovation network project focused on facilitating improved knowledge exchange and co-ordinated solutions on socio-economic resilience, animal health and welfare, production efficiency and quality and environmentally sustainability.

EU/COPA Developments

  • IFA Submission on beef supports to EU Commission.
  • At European level through our Brussels office and COPA, the relevant EU Commissioners and Commission officials have all been made fully aware of the very difficult situation at farm level in Ireland. In addition, key players from other member states have been briefed with particular focus on the French, Polish and Italians on beef and the French on sheep.
  • Conference call/meetings with;
    • EU DG Agri Markets Director and Commission team
    • Commissioner offices (Agriculture and Trade)
    • COPA Beef Chairman and Secretary
    • FNB – French beef farmers
    • Polish, Belgium, Spanish, Italian beef farmers.

Upcoming Issues/Priorities

  • EU Beef and Sheep Update. Weekly update on email, for distribution to IFA whats app and web on beef and sheep issues and action.
  • Budget 2021 submission and supports for beef farmers and sucklers.
  • Analysis of the EU Green Deal-farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategy launched on May 20th.
  • Stay up to date on the IFA web site. ifa.ie
  • Key Dates; EU Budget, MFF and COVID recovery package on May 27th.
Chairman Brendan Golden
Director of Livestock Kevin Kinsella
  1. Market Report and Milk Prices
  • COVID19 has impacted dairy prices severely in early spring, with returns falling by over 9c/l based on EU MMO average market prices, and over 11c/l based on EU spot quotes between January and mid-April.
  • Recent trends have been more positive, with the introduction of a very limited APS scheme for dairy (see below) bringing a little more confidence, but more importantly, we have seen a very slow reopening of food services as more and more countries globally come out of lockdown creating demand to refill empty pipelines to respond to demand in a few months’ time.
  • Spot quotes have increased week on week for over 4 weeks at this stage, and earlier this week the second GDT auction of May was up 1%, with a massive 6.7% increase in the SMP index.
  • EU average quotes are also firming, especially powders and butter, while cheddar cheese, which had held well todate, is easing somewhat.
  • Milk supplies have been rising this spring in most regions bar New Zealand, and in Europe in most countries bar the UK and Denmark.Germany and France have seen much more moderate trends however, and analysts expect the second half of the year, influenced by poorer farmgate prices, to see lower levels of milk production growth.
  • The COVID19 APS scheme opened for applications on 7th May, and Ireland had fully utilised its very modest 2180t cheese allocation within 3 days. By the second week of the scheme, around 38% of the overall 100,000t of cheese had been applied for, with Ireland joining many other countries who had fully utilised their allocation looking for reallocation of any unused quantities. Ireland has also contributed over 6,000t of butter, and no SMP.  The table right shows the most recent data available on dairy APS utilisation all over Europe.
  • Milk prices had been cut by co-ops for March milk by up to 2c/l (Lakeland by 1.8c/l, Aurivo by 1.5c/l).
  • April milk price was further cut by another 1c/l, which could have been greater but for major IFA lobbying, in which the National Dairy Committee joined forces with the National Liquid Milk Committee, FMP and Co. Chairmen.
  • IFA estimates that April milk prices average at 28.38c/l + VAT (29.91c/l incl VAT) – however this average is a simple average of the FJ Milk League, and includes the 4 West Cork Co-ops which, even after a 1c/l total payout cut (half base, half contribution from Carbery Stability Fund) pay an April price of around 32.4c/l incl VAT.By comparison, Glanbia, Dairygold and Kerry pay an April milk price respectively of 28.42c/l, 28.69c/l and 29.5c/l – all VAT inclusive.
  • It is worth noting that Aurivo decided to hold their April milk price at the base March price of 30c/l incl VAT. (note, Aurivo also pays an unconditional early calving bonus of 1.48c/l for March milk, which obviously no longer applies to April milk).
  • See more about the market trends, milk supplies and demand in the IFA 20th May Dairy Market Blog.

 

  1. Activity since last Council – including COVID-19 response
  • The Committee, in collaboration with our Liquid Milk colleagues and County Chairmen, has been actively lobbying board members to minimise the April milk price cut, by urging the review of every co-op’s profit and margin expectation, and by redirecting boards towards costs other than milk prices.While many co-ops had talked of milk price reductions in excess of 1c/l, none as we write have cut by more.
  • IFA is in weekly teleconference contact with DII and other stakeholders, including Teagasc, DAFM, ICOS and ICMSA to review developments in the processing sector.So far, collaborative contingency planning between co-ops and hard work by milk collecting and processing staff in every co-op has meant all milk has been collected and processed, and peak is now passed in many co-op areas.  However, large quantities will continue to test capacity for several weeks, and there is greater nervousness around what has been happening in meat plants (fundamentally different in terms of staffing arrangements and scope for distancing in the workplace, but also in terms of worker cohorts, which in dairy plants are not predominantly immigrants accommodated and travelling to work in groups as is often the case in meat plants).
  • The Committee has been involved in analysing and reacting to the newly announced Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies published this week by the EU Commission, participating in the webinar on this topic hosted by ICOS and addressed by Mairead McGuinness MEP.
  • We have also participated in Brexit discussions with Tanaiste Simon Coveney and Minister Helen McEntee, as the prospect for a no deal Brexit is raising its head again.
  • In anticipation of a likely emergency budget over the coming weeks, the Committee has also contributed to the drawing up of IFA’s pre-budget submission.
  1. Upcoming issues
  • Within 2/3 weeks, co-ops will be determining their May milk prices. IFA will monitor market developments and communicate those, which we hope will continue on the current more positive trend, to officers and members.  We will also articulate our lobbying arguments in advance of the early to mid-June dates by which boards will be making those decisions.
  • The renewal of the Nitrates derogation from 2021 is also coming up, and we have participated in a meeting with Teagasc to better understand the likely additional requirements, including a recalculation of the N load of a cow possibly from 85kgs to 89kgs (conservative figure), but also in terms of slurry storage requirements, spreading, and need to prove exports where farmers operate above 170kgs without derogation.As the Nitrates derogation is vital to the dairy sector, and bearing in mind the government formation talks involving the Green Party and their demands in those areas, the Committee has made a clear decision that will continue to work on this topic in conjunction with the Environment Committee.
Chairman Tom Phelan
Executive Catherine Lascurettes
  1. Forest Markets
  • The European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) and European Organisation of the Sawmill industry (EOS) issued a joint statement in April to highlight the wide‐ranging and severe impacts the coronavirus outbreak is having on the timber value chain. The construction sector, a fundamental market for the timber industry, has taken a hit in the UK. This is a key market for Ireland, with approx. 80% of the forest products produced in Ireland exported to the UK, Germany and Benelux countries. The effects of the coronavirus crisis are beginning to be seen in lower demand for wood products.
  1. Activity since last National Council
  • The delays getting decisions on forestry licences (afforestation, roads and felling) continue to be an issue for forest owners with frustration mounting, as in some instances the delays are reducing value of the timber crop. The following licences were issued in April.
  Licences Area/Length Volume
Felling 151 1,437 ha 428,884 m3
Afforestation 69 566 ha n/a
Roads 39 15,561 m n/a
  • Licences issued in April continue to show an improved rate on the previous months for all three categories. The felling figure brings the volume licensed to 1.5 million m3 for the first 4 months of the year. The biggest change in April was a significant increase in private felling licences, as a proportion of overall licences which we estimate to be approx. 55% i.e. 230,000 m3 of the volume below issued to private applicants with the balance to Coillte.
  • The above figures do not include positive decisions from the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC). In the last month (24thApril to 15th May) 35 cases were heard by FAC, of which 23 cases were confirmed and 12 cases were cancelled. For more information on the FAC decision click here.
  • IFA has written to the Department seeking additional information on the number of licences that are screened ine. within a 15km of a Natura site, which then require the farmer to either pay for a NIS or wait an undetermined amount of time, but at current rates in excess of a year, for the application to be processed internally through the Appropriate Assessment Requirement (AAR) system. This information is pending.
  • IFA undertook a survey of forestry consultants and companies to get an indication of the cost of Natura Impact Statement, the average cost is between €1,500 to €2,200. However, due to the high and low return, particularly in first thinning, many farmers are opting not to proceed with application.
  • IFA addressed concerns in relation to the use of insecticides in Irish forests, particularly cypermethrin, which is used to treat pine weevil. Seedlings planted after clear felling operations are especially at risk. The adult weevils cause damage by eating the bark of seedlings around the ‘collar’ of the stem, thus ‘ring-barking’ the tree seedling, which usually results in its demise. Tree seedling are often dipped in insecticide to protect the young plants and in some cases, where there is a high rate of infestation, a top up spray at close range by an operator with a knapsack sprayer is spot sprayed to the base of the young sapling. In Ireland pesticides are never applied aerially in forests.
  • IFA participated in a webinar on the European Green Deal and Forests. The Green Deal is a set of policy initiatives brought forward by the European Commission with the overarching aim of making Europe climate neutral in 2050. The implementation of the strategies and polices proposed relating to the forest sector are wide ranging and include climate policy, biodiversity policy, energy policy, forest strategy, industrial policy and will have significant implications to the sector in the coming decade. It is important that as the Green Deal relates to the forest sector that:
    • It is more producer centric; and
    • There is greater emphasis on the role of the bio-economy.
  • IFA followed up with Department to get update on the status of the draft supports for plantations impacted by Ash Dieback disease following meeting with Minister Doyle in March.
  • IFA inputted into the terms of reference for the newly established Ecosystem Services Working Group under the COFORD Council.
  • Teagasc & Prosilva Ireland are showcasing Ireland’s Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) pioneers in a new online CCF case study series. The series focuses on the owners’ experiences in transforming their forests and provides real figures of timber outputs from felling interventions.
  • There is a Condition Orange – High Risk Forest Fire warning in place from the 20th to 22nd May, unless significant rainfall. Based on recent fire incidents, most ignition risks appear to be associated with deliberate ignition on public recreation lands and forest sites open to the public. If you see a fire report it to the Fire and Emergency Services by dialling 999 or 112. You will not be billed by the fires service or local authority for making the call.
  1. Upcoming issues
  • Organise series of virtual regional Farm Forestry committee meetings to update officers on work that is being undertaken and ensure regional forestry issues/concerns are addressed.
  • IFA to continue to maintain pressure on the Department to provide short-term plan to address forestry licences backlog and proposed to remove management operations i.e. thinning from the licencing process.
  • Finalisation of IFA Forestry Programme post 2020 submission.
Chairman Vincent Nally
Executive Geraldine O’Sullivan

Domestic Market

Due to the continuation of the dry weather, feed demand has remained strong considering the time of year. If this dry spell continues, we will see an increase in the demand for supplementary feed as grass growth is adversely affected. The weather is beginning to have an effect on crops, with rainfall figures in areas of the midlands and east at record low levels for March and April. Parts of north Dublin have only received 45mm of rain in March and April and 4mm so far in May. This area would typically receive 160mm on average over these three months. At this stage rainfall amounts are actually lower than the bad drought year of 2018, however, on the plus side, crops were planted earlier this season and are better established than two years ago.

The figures on 2020 cereal plantings will soon be available from DAFM. They should show a cropping area for the main cereals of approximately 260,000 ha which would be similar to last season. In general, the reduction in Winter cropping area has been replaced by Spring crops. The combination of some poor Winter crops; the increased ratio of Spring crops and the possibility of an impending drought could see the production tonnage dropping below 2 million tonnes versus the 2.35 million figures in 2019.

While a considerable amount of barley remains in store, the stocks are lower than last year. IFA Grain Committee Chairman Mark Browne has called on feed mills to use Irish grains as feed merchants are now producing rations which contain little or no Irish grain and have replaced it with maize grain from non-EU sources.

The FOB Creil malting barley average price remains at €168/t. The plantings of malting barley have increased across the EU this season however some of this area increase has been mitigated due to the possibility of lower yields due to the dry conditions.

Irish Native / Import Dried Feed Prices 15/05/2020

Spot €/t Nov 2020 €/t
Wheat 198-202   190
 Feed Barley 167-170 164 -168
FOB Creil Malting Barley 168
Oats 160 160
OSR 360 360
Maize (Import) 180 173
Soymeal (Import) 348 340

International Markets

The wheat market reacted negatively to last week’s USDA’s report on the global wheat market outlook. They expect global wheat stocks at the end of the 2020/21 marketing year will rise to a record-large 310 million tonnes, up from 295 million at the end of 2019/20. However, these projections are based on best case scenarios and obviously weather could still play a part. The gap in prices between wheat and maize/barley is also significant and this could prove bearish for the crop. In relation to market positives, although parts of the Europe and the Black seas regions have received much needed moisture this may have been too little too late. In addition, exports of wheat from Europe have again been revised upwards which will leave less carryover stock going into the new season.

The USDA report proved somewhat benign for maize which is a slight positive. US maize prices are at historic lows due to the drop in ethanol demand and the prospects of record US plantings. However, prices have stabilised and market ending stocks are lower than predicted in the previous report with expectations of increased Chinese imports. Some market commentators predict US maize plantings to be lower than the governments figures and with ethanol demand picking up as economies reopen there is some optimism in the market.

In the soybean market, the USDA report was considered supportive with US production, US 2020/21 ending stocks and global ending stocks coming in below trade estimates. The increase in Chinese purchases is also seen as a positive for the market. Soymeal prices have continued to decline as world supply chains have returned to normal. As biofuel use begins to rise again rapeseed futures have remained strong. With EU rapeseed production predicted to be at historic lows of 17million tonnes, and with the EU’s main importer Ukraine also predicting lower production, spot prices should remain strong for the foreseeable future.

Activity Since Last National Council 

  • Covid 19 has continued to have a severe impact on the tillage sector, particularly on the feed and malting barley sectors. IFA has written to Minister Creed asking him to introduce the following:
    • The recently adopted EU Temporary Framework for state aid must be immediately utilised to support farmers with direct payments for any price related market losses.
    • It has been confirmed that Tillage farmers can access credit/finance through the Credit Guarantee Scheme, however this initiative must be at a lower rate than previous schemes and applicable to the sector.
    • Introduce a maximum quota regarding the importation of maize from third world countries, such as Brazil, into Ireland.
    • In relation to the phased reduction of government restrictions, the reopening of pubs and bars should be considered in Phase 3 (29th June) of the roadmap, in tandem with restaurants and cafes. Of course, this can only happen if all protocols regarding social distancing, hygiene etc are followed.
  • The recent decision by the NPWS to disallow the shooting of wood pigeons during the months of June, July and August was a serious issue for the tillage sector. IFA organised a meeting with the NPWS and subsequently sent a submission to the NPWS on the issue with the purpose of getting the decision overturned.https://www.ifa.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Wood-Pidgeon-Derogation.pdf. On the foot of the IFA intervention the minister Josepha Madigan has decided to reverse the decision and farmers can continue to control wood pigeons throughout the year.
  • IFA has continued it’s campaign on the use of native grains. The IFA Grain Committee Chairman Mark Browne has called on feed mills to use Irish grains. Some feed merchants are now producing rations which contain little or no Irish grain and have replaced it with maize grain from non-EU sources.
  • In a recent meeting with Tara McCarthy CEO of Bord Bia, the grain chairman emphasised that Bord Bia must include the use of local and sustainable feed ingredients in any current and proposed farm sustainability schemes.
  • IFA has met with DAFM regarding the re authorisation of a number of vital PPP’s such as mancozeb. There is also ongoing work involving a series of meetings regarding emergency derogation on a number of products and the registration of new active ingredients.
  • The malting barley committee has been in discussions with the malting companies regarding maximising the intake of malting barley this harvest despite the difficulties in the drinks sector due to the closure of pubs and restaurants. In addition to these meetings the committee has undertaken the following actions:
  • IFA has sought legal advice regarding claiming a force majeure in relation to the malting barley contracts
  • Meetings were arranged with representatives from Diageo and Heineken directly to discuss the issues
  • IFA has raised the issues with Drinks Ireland
  • The IFA president Tim Cullinan has written to the Boortmalt CEO requesting a meeting.

EU/COPA developments

  • IFA, along with Copa.Cogeca, is lobbying in Brussels regarding the re authorisation of a number of vital PPP’s such as mancozeb. There is also ongoing work involving a series of meetings regarding emergency derogation on a number of products and the registration of new active ingredients.
  • IFA will continue the campaign in relation to an increased CAP budget.
  • IFA will continue its campaign to ensure that the proposed Green Deal (Farm to Fork & Biodiversity strategies) will not have a negative effect on the grain sector.
  • The Grain Chairman Mark Browne raised the issue of imports of third country maize at the last Copa meeting of the Phytosanitary committee.

 Upcoming Issues/Events

  • IFA will continue to demand direct financial aid for the tillage sectors most affected by the Covid 19 pandemic.
  • CAP 2020 continues to be a major issue for the viability of the Grain sector and the Grain Committee will be working on this in the coming months.
  • IFA is continuing to work on a labelling standard regarding the inclusion of native grains and will continue its campaign on greater inclusion of native grains in feed rations.
  • There are still high barley stocks in parts of the country and if maize continues to be imported while these barley stocks remain than the Grain Committee will have to take action on this.
Chairman Mark Browne
Executive Patrick Farrell

Market Report

The spell of favourable weather from late March has continued into May which has allowed planting progress to continue uninterrupted. Apart from Spring onions and Spring Cabbage, the marketing season for most of the outdoor vegetable crops will start in June. The salad crops, such as cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce continue to enjoy favourable growing conditions with good light levels.

The Continuation of the COVID-19 crisis has seen demand for supplies of fresh produce going to retail remain strong. Those supplying the food service sector have seen demand pick up slightly but it still remains at only 20% of normal. Meanwhile the lifting of restrictions on farmers markets this week is welcome news.

An initiative to recruit large numbers of seasonal workers for the horticultural sector in Ireland has been launched by DEASP in conjunction with DAFM, Teagasc and IFA. It is hoped that this initiative along with the recruitment of students etc. will help to supplement the limited availability of foreign seasonal workers so far this season. Notwithstanding the above, growers are incurring major extra costs due to the Covid 19 restrictions, with retailers slow to acknowledge this in the farm gate price.

The low rainfall levels have led to moisture deficits in the midlands and East of the country in particular. For instance only 12.8mm of rain was recorded for  the month of April and 5mm so far in May at Dublin airport. These figures represent  historic lows for this area. Although the dry conditions aided plantings last month, they are now having an effect on seed germination and crop establishment.

Protected Crops and Salads

The growing season is good so far this year, with excellent quality reported. For indoor crops excellent light levels are reported, however temperatures have remained quite low, especially along the east coast. Outdoor crops are struggling to germinate in some areas due to low temperatures and occasional night frosts last week.Labour shortage and sourcing seasonal labour are ongoing issues for growers in this sector which is further compounded by social isolation and distancing rules etc.The reduction in the critical mass of growers in the salad sector remains a serious issue with one of the main cucumber producers ceasing business this year.

Brassicas

Plantings are on track this year as favourable weather in late March/April has allowed growers to get on top of work.  Retail trade for all brassicas is very strong due to the restrictions in place which has resulted in more home cooking. Growing conditions up to now have been good, with moderate soil moisture deficits. However, as the dry conditions continue, moisture deficits are a major concern for growers, especially along the east-coast. Some growers have been irrigating crops since the end of April. Main crop broccoli is due to begin harvesting around mid-June. As with the other sectors, labour is a key concern for brassica growers.

Root Crops

Plantings are on track for root crops this year aided by dry conditions in March/April. Retail demand is also strong due to current Covid 19 restrictions. Growing conditons have been good to date, with adequate moisture levels and good sunshine levels. Like other horticultural commodities, moisture levels and on farm labour will be key concerns moving into the summer months.

Softfruit

The season is largely on track so far this year, with crops developing well. Volumes into the market have increased in the past week but will remain tight for another week at least. Centenary is the main variety produced by growers again this season. Staffing is the primary concern for all growers giving the current situation. Most growers will require the majority of their seasonal staff from now onwards. With roadside sales allowed since the 18th of May this should be a positive for the sector, however it remains to be seen what sales will be like with reduced traffic volumes on the roads.

Topfruit

The 2019 season is coming to a close and reports from growers indicate that overall yields for eating apples were moderate and light for cooking apples. The prospects for the 2020 season were looking good, however, recent night frost may have caused serious damage. Dry conditions so far this year have also kept disease pressure at a minimum. Retail sales of apples overall has been very strong since the lockdown peroid commenced.

Mushrooms

Like the other sectors the collapse in food service demand affected the mushroom sector earlier on but now the market has stabilised with the increse in retail demand taking most of the surplus. The package of support measures from the EU commission in relation to PO’s which allow increased flexibility around operational programmes will be of some help to the sector. The recent weakening of sterling along with uncertainly over Brexit are ongoing concerns for the sector.

Ornamental Sector

The opening of garden centres this week has been welcome news . Howver, the loss of sales at the peak time of the sesaon due to the Covid related restrictions have had a serious impact on the sector. Some of the bedding plant suppliers managed to find other aveues for sales through retail shops, service stations etc. however this did not compensate for the closure of the normal supply outlets. The cutflower producers lost up to 50% of turnover during their critical March sales period and they hope their bulb sales will be unaffected in June. 

Activity since last National Council

  • Following the controversy regarding the entry of EU seasonal workers into the country, IFA again contacted the government to ensure that horticulture workers would continue to be allowed into the Ireland in accordance with EU guidelines. As part of a media campaign IFA organised a number of TV, radio and newspaper pieces to emphasise the critical need for seasonal workers in horticulture.
  • An initiative to recruit large numbers of seasonal workers for the horticultural sector in Ireland has been launched by DEASP in conjunction with IFA, DAFM, and Teagasc. It is hoped that this initiative along with the recruitment of students etc. will help to supplement the limited availability of foreign seasonal workers so far this season.
  • Producers are incurring major extra costs associated with implementing new Health and Safety guidelines due to the pandemic. Retailers have refused to acknowledge this in the farm gate price or show any appreciation for the extra effort which is ensuring fresh produce gets to their shelves. IFA has had a number of meetings with all the main retailers on this issue.
  • IFA continued to receive a number of queries from growers around the country regarding restricted movements due to COVID-19 and how growers are affected. Any farmer/grower is permitted to travel to work/harvest etc during this time. Farmers are advised to their drivers’ licence and/or their IFA membership as proof of identification. If a farmer/grower has employees the advice is to provide them with a letter. A template letter is available on https://www.ifa.ie/COVID19/
  • The recent decision by the NPWS to disallow the shooting of wood pigeons during the months of June, July and August will be a serious issue for the field vegetable sector. IFA organised a meeting with the NPWS on the issue of the wood pigeon derogation. We have subsequently sent a submission to the NPWS on the issue with the purpose of getting the decision overturned.https://www.ifa.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Wood-Pidgeon-Derogation.pdf
  • IFA has continued its lobbying with the minister and at EU level in Brussels detailing the severe impact of the crisis on the amenity sector. The recent opening of the gardens centres is a help however the serious losses in the sector will not be recouped this season. Losses of up to 50% of turnover have been reported in the cut flower sector and direct financial support will be required if this sector is to survive.
  • IFA along with Bord Bia and other stakeholders are involved in a number of industry campaigns. ‘Celebrate Strawberry Season’ was launched this week while a number of gardening TV adverts have been created along with the ‘Bloom at Home’ campaign which will start next week. 

EU/COPA Developments

  • IFA have continued contact with both the EU Commission and COPA in relation to the impact of Covid 19 on the Horticulture sector
  • IFA was successful in getting some flexibility around the rules in the PO operational programs and this should be of some benefit to the mushroom sector.
  • IFA has lobbied in Brussels and with DAFM regarding the re authorisation of a number of vital PPP’s such as mancozeb. There is also ongoing work involving a series of meetings regarding emergency derogation on a number of products.
  • The campaign around CAP 2020 has continued particularly in relation to the proposed percentage of monies which must be spent on environmental actions under any new PO regime. 

Upcoming Events / Issues

  • IFA will continue to demand direct financial aid for the sectors most affected by the Covid 19 pandemic
  • Work will continue with Bord Bia in relation to the EU fruit and vegetable campaign. The promotion opportunity is for 80% EU funding towards a significant (all public) generic promotion of fruit and veg. The potential funding is €1m over 2 years with €100k coming from industry.
  • IFA will continue its work regarding the retention of key PPP’s
  • Meetings will continue with retailers regarding the issues arising as a result of Covid 19.
Chairman Paul Brophy
Executive Patrick Farrell

Milk price and Liquid Milk Market

  • For liquid milk producers, the milk price this time of year is the creamery milk price;
  • The National Liquid Milk Committee has been actively supporting the milk price lobbying effort by the National Dairy Committee
  • Liquid milk retail sales have benefited from a 17% increase in groceries sales in the last 12 weeks (figure not specific to milk) – COVID19 related as the population eats all meals at home;
  • For the same reason, the market has suffered from loss of food services for some milk and cream with the closure of restaurants, cafes and canteens;
  • Concern over impact on improving wholesale liquid milk prices from the opportunity created for retailers by lower dairy returns and lower creamery milk prices to put the squeeze on;
  • The Committee has approached the National Milk Agency to be extra vigilant to ensure non-contracted milk is not used by some dairies or retailers to put pressure on legitimate, contracted suppliers.

Activities since last Council

  • The Committee has asked John Finn to remain care taker Chairman until it is possible to have an election – and will elect a Chairman at the first opportunity of a physical meeting when COVID19 restrictions are eased for physical meetings;
  • The creation of a broadcast only WhatsApp group for the Committee has allowed to ensure it remains very well informed of IFA and dairy activity;
  • The Committee has held a number of virtual joint meetings with the Dairy Committee re. the concerns over processing capacity at peak, and had a virtual meeting on 24th
Chairman John Finn
Executive Catherine Lascurettes

Market Report

28c/kg Drop in Pig Price

The pig price has suffered greatly in Ireland since the Covid1-19 pandemic hit. The Irish pig price has dropped from €1.96/kg at the beginning of February to an average of €1.68/kg on the week beginning Monday 18th May. This 28c/kg drop in price translates to a devaluation of a factory pig by €23, and for the average Irish pig farm with 750 sows, that means a reduced income of €9,200 per week. With current production costs, which have increased due to Covid-19 restrictions and some feed price increases in recent weeks, pig farmers once again find themselves back at near break-even prices. Teagasc, along with many market analysts, had predicted an average pig price of over €2/kg for 2020 back in January. Most pig farmers have undertaken renovation and essential maintenance work on pig farmers, work that was continually on hold due to low return for previous years. Without a market price recovery in the second half of 2020, pig farmers face more uncertainty about the long-term prospects.

European Markets

Many pig producing countries across the EU have experienced great disturbance to their pig production throughput. Many pig processing plants experienced great difficulties in coping with physical distancing requirements, and outbreaks of Covid-19 among meat factory workers has been common, right across Europe. This delay in processing capacity, combined with no foodservice demand, which is an important outlet for pork across Europe, lead to a sharp decline in European pig prices. The European average pig price hovers at €1.60/kg with many countries still struggling to keep factory ready stock processed.

The important Chinese market has returned to the marketplace and product is back on the move again, which is a positive development. The price has tumbled from late 2019 levels, but the overall deficit in pigmeat in China will hopefully underpin sustained demand at profitable price levels.

Coronavirus Responses

The IFA continues to engaged with all pig processors, both at individual level, through the Committee Chairman, Tom Hogan, IFA President Tim Cullinane, and Pig Committee members and with Meat Industry Ireland (MII) representatives, Cormac Healy and Joe Ryan. The priority was always to ensure that the processing of the weekly pig kill continues uninterrupted and contingency plans were in place from an early date.

IFA Pig Committee Priorities

The Pig Chairman said that pig farmers have taken enough pain, with 28c/kg of price cuts too much for any sector to take.  He called on the industry to hold prices, and return stability to the marketplace. The increased retail demand combined with Ireland’s good market access to China, along with recently announced market access to Mexico has to improve the return to farmers.

Chairman Thomas Hogan
Executive Robert Malone

Once again, this week retail demand remains quite positive and the food service sector continues to operate at around 25% capacity. Frost damage has been reported, especially in shaded areas in east Wexford. The extent of the damage is not yet known, but digging could be delayed by up to three weeks as a result in some areas and yields reduced. Continued dry weather has forced some growers to commence irrigating last week. Reports indicate that glasshouse potatoes are in the region of €2000-€2200/tonne.

Cold and dry conditions are also causing havoc for growers in the U.K. Soils are now very dry and reports suggest that frost damage on sites with lush top growth was nearly 70% in some cases but on irrigated sites, this was restricted to 10%. The market situation remains much unchanged.

In Europe drought and cold nights are also a primary concern, as temperatures fell to  -4.5°C in Holland last week. Early processing crops in Germany appear to have escaped the cold weather. Processing prices remain “on the floor” and growers’ main concern is to clear stores. Outlets include starch, cattle food and ethanol production. Slightly more interest in exports to the East is reported in Belgium – although at low prices.  Fresh markets are firm with buyers looking for new crop. All N.European countries report that varieties destined for processing are now competing for market share in the fresh sector, but high levels of skin blemish and dehydration are ruling out many stocks.

Ex-Farm Potato Prices reported to IFA

Low High Average
Rooster box €330 €380 €350
Rooster10 kg bag €3.30 €4.00 €3.50
Whites box €320 €370 €350
K Pinks 10kg bag €4.20 €5.00 €4.50
Golden Wonder 10kg bag €5.00 €6.00 €5.50

Activity since last National Council

The IFA May potato stock survey is current being finalised, and will be published in the next week.

  • There were some further reports of uncertified potato seed advertised for sale on Done deal, IFA brought this to the attention of DAFM
  • IFA had a conference call meeting last week with the NPWS on the issue of wood pigeon derogation. We have subsequently sent a submission to the NPWS on the issue https://www.ifa.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Wood-Pidgeon-Derogation.pdf.
  • IFA continued to receive a number of queries from growers around the country regarding restricted movements due to COVID-19 and how growers are implicated. Any farmer/grower is permitted to travel to work/harvest etc during this time. Farmers are advised to their drivers’ licence and/or their IFA membership as proof of identification. If a farmer/grower has employees the advice is to provide them with a letter. A template letter is available on https://www.ifa.ie/COVID19/
  • A number of growers supplying the catering and fresh chip sectors have been seriously affected by the lack of demand due to the impact of the pandemic and have had to send potatoes for cattle feed. IFA have brought this to the attention of DAFM.
  • IFA has been involved in meetings of the Potato Promotion group to launch the new EU potato promotion campaign.https://www.potato.ie/
  • An IFA potato newsletter was produced and circulated to all by email and the link texted to all members.https://ifa.newsweaver.com/15nen7go4d/s1vs56pizw94a0w9ors4um?email=true&lang=en&a=11&p=5129707
  • IFA has lobbied in Brussels and with DAFM regarding the re authorisation of a number of vital PPP’s such as mancozeb. There is also ongoing work involving a series of meetings regarding an emergency derogation for the potato desiccant diquat.
  • IFA contacted a number of retailers regarding the stocking of Italian potatoes instead of Irish produce.

Upcoming Activity/Events

  • Potato Promotions – The promotion has now begun and activities are scheduled for the coming months. Most activities will be online centring around influencers sharing recipes and nutritional facts about potatoes. IFA will be involved in the planning and will be participating in the activities.
  • All growers have now received a letter from IFA asking them to contribute to the potato promotion fund. There will be a follow up to the letter to encourage all growers to contribute. Growers and industry will each have to contribute 20% of the funding but this will be matched by 80% co-funding from the EU.
  • IFA will continue to demand that packers and retailers increase potato farm gate prices to cover the extra costs of cold storage.
  • The annual potato planting survey will commence in June
  • IFA will continue its work regarding for the retention of key PPP’s and seeking a derogation for Diquat.
  • IFA is in contact with DAFM regarding the inclusion of haulm toppers and potato storage equipment under the TAMS scheme.
Chairman Thomas McKeown
Executive Patrick Farrell

Market Report

Broilers

Broiler production remains steady at 2 million birds per week, and the three poultry processing plants have managed the Covid-19 restrictions without any disruption to throughput.  While demand for chicken did experience significant surge in retail demand following restriction introductions in March, this has been offset by the falloff in foodservice sales. While Ireland exported around €330 million worth of poultry meat in 2019, mainly to the UK, we are still an importer of chicken fillets, that largely went to the foodservice and the butcher trade. The domestic production of 100 million broiler birds per annum should be safeguarded by the close links that the main retailers have with Bord Bia quality assured product. The risk posed by Avian Influenza (AI) remains a threat to the entire sector and IFSA reminds all farmers to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity.

Egg Production

Following 10 confirmed outbreaks of AI, in the Co Monaghan region, circa 500,000 laying hens were culled, at farmers own expense, with no compensation. This has left a shortfall of eggs in the Irish market. The increase in retail demand combined with this shortfall has created a perfect storm of sorts. The main egg packers are importing eggs, mainly from the UK and some from continental Europe to supply retail contracts. In spite of this demand and short supply, farmers have thus far failed to receive any price increase.  IFA has been in contact with all retailers regarding the urgent issues facing all poultry farmers, egg producers in particular. The current situation where the entire risk due to non-notifiable disease such as AI is unsustainable, and IFA will continue to lobby the industry and retailers along with the DAFM to seek some form of risk sharing going forward.

Following numerous meetings held between an industry stakeholder group and DAFM regarding the need to compensate farmers affected by AI, the DAFM has failed to respond with any funding proposals.

Covid-19 Response

The priority for the entire poultry sector is to maintain production, broiler processing and egg packing, while adhering to all HSE guidelines. The very nature of the supply chain of both broilers and eggs does not allow for any time delays, and sales are matched with production, months ahead. It is vital that the three chicken slaughter plants remain fully operational, which they have to date.  

Immediate Priorities

The IFA poultry Chairman will continue to lobby the DAFM to respond positively to requests for compensation for AI affected poultry farmers.

Egg Price Campaign

The IFA is in talks with stakeholders to ensure adequate remuneration for all costs and risks borne by commercial and free-range egg producers is returned from the marketplace.

TAMS Funding

The Minister for Agriculture, M Creed announced in February of this year that he would increase the investment limit from €80,000 up to €200,000 for the PPIS (Pig & Poultry investment scheme). It is a priority for the IFA that this is implemented as soon as possible.

Chairman Andy Boylan
Executive Robert Malone

Market Report

  • Lamb Price. Latest Lamb Price Update. 21/5/2020. Supplies meeting demand. Retail sales and the end of Ramadan driving trade. Factories paying €6.20/6.30 for spring lambs. Hoggets coming to an end at €5.50/5.60. Ewes €2.50/2.80/kg.
  • Changeover. The changeover from hoggets to new season lamb has effectively happened, with the kill now on 60% New season and 40% hoggets.
  • Spring lambs now exceed hoggets w/e May 10th below. This is the latest full weekly data from DAFM as there has been a delay in data submission due to COVID, in some plants. Data for w/e May 17th will show a higher spring lamb kill.

  • Supplies are expected to rise quickly as the new season lambs becomes fit and ready for sale. The advice is as always – move lambs as they become fit.
  • COVID-19 and Numbers. Major concern about prices when new season lamb numbers rise and the market impact from the COVID-19 crisis is fully felt. The closure of the food service sector across the EU is a major blow to the markets.
  • Lamb is a high value product and needs high value outlets such as restaurants.
  • In the UK for week ending May 10th hoggets were £4.71/kg equivalent to €5.58/kg. New season lambs were on £5.14/kg, equivalent to €6.09/kg incl vat.
  • APS – no uptake to date at EU level. The restrictions limiting access to carcases and half carcases as opposed to cuts is an issue which IFA highlighted to the DAFM and Commission. APS may be needed as supply numbers increase and depending on the recovery in the food service markets.
  • Ramadan April 23rd to May 23rd. Eid al-Adha July 20th. to Aug 3rd.
  • Main New season Bord Bia Lamb TV promotions due to kick in on the first week of June.
  • New Zealand lamb exports have been hit hard by COVID-19, with EU exports for the month of April down 28% and exports year to date back 47%, mainly due to the closure of the food services sector.
  • IFA will continue to publish lamb prices twice weekly and all of the latest data is on ifa.ie
  • In conjunction with COPA at EU level, the IFA has lobbied for the following measures for the sheep sector. Immediately support farmers with direct payments for any price related market losses, APS for market support, review and suspend non-EU imports during the COVID-19 crisis, a new EU promotional programme for lamb targeted at retail level.

Budget 2021 Proposal

  • With 34,000 flock owners, sheep farming is the second largest sector in terms of farm numbers. The sector has an output of €450m with exports of 55,000t to 35 different countries.
  • The Sheep Welfare Scheme has been very positive and effective; sheep are major contributors to environmental preservation, particularly in hill and mountainous areas. The four-year scheme is due to conclude in Dec 2020.
  • IFA Proposal; A targeted payment of €30 per ewe through a combination of CAP and national funding for sheep farmers. Across the national flock of 2.57 million ewes, this would require funding of €77m pa.

Government Formation

  • €30 per ewe. IFA is lobbying for a targeted direct payment of €30 per ewe to be included in the Programme for Government as committed to by the political parties during the election campaign.

Sheep Census 2019

  • The Sheep census was published recently by the Department of Agriculture. The overall number of flock owners who declared that they had sheep in December 2019 was 34,938 which is a decrease of 248 (approx 0.7%) on the December 2018 figure of 35,186.
  • The census returns indicate that there were 3.8 million sheep (3,809,368) in the State on 31st December 2019, representing an increase of 2% (76,413) on the December 2018 figure of 3.73 million.
  • The 2019 figure includes 2.57 million breeding ewes over 12 months of age, which is an increase of approximately 11,000 (0.4%) on the previous year’s population of 2.56 million. The average number of sheep per flock was 109 compared to 106 in 2018 and 108 in 2017.

EU/NZ Trade Talks

  • The seventh round of EU negotiations with New Zealand on a new trade deal took place between March 30th and April 9th. EU are now discussing a 3,000t beef TRQ at 7.5% tariff and a safeguard clause on lamb.

Activity since last Council

  • IFA made a detailed submission to the Government and the EU Commission on the measures needed to support the sheep sector through COVID-19.
  • IFA National Sheep Management Committee meeting on April 29th
  • Lobby of TDs and Senators on Government formation and campaign for €30 per ewe.
  • Case to DAFM to allow sheep shearing and travel.
  • Ongoing contact with DAFM, Bord Bia, Sheep Ireland, and lamb factories on sheep issues.
  • Weekly publication of IFA Beef and Sheep Update and update of IFA What’s app groups on a weekly basis. See ifa.ie
  • IFA has written to app lamb producer groups as part of the Sheep Ireland Board elections.

EU/COPA Developments

  • COPA, the European umbrella body for farm organisations, which IFA is part of in Brussels, has submitted details for sheep market and direct payment supports for the sheep sector to the EU Commission, including IFA proposals.
  • IFA has lobbied and briefed senior EU Commission officials on the sheep issues and IFA proposals.
  • IFA working with FNO – French Sheep farmers and others on EU measures for the sheep sector.

Upcoming Issues/Priorities

  • Lamb Prices post Ramadan and as numbers increase. Promotions programme.
  • Push for sheep market and direct supports at EU level.
  • Lobby on the Programme for Government and campaign for €30 per ewe.
  • Full National Sheep Committee meeting scheduled for Monday May 25th.
  • Analysis of the EU Green Deal – Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategy and implications for sheep farmers.
Chairman Sean Dennehy
Director of Livestock Kevin Kinsella

TB

Revised COVID-19 testing protocol

  • The revised protocol agreed maintains all of the flexibilities secured by IFA. These include exemption of calves under 120 days from the test requirement, the facilitation of trade of calves up to 120 days without needing a TB test for internal movements, the delay of testing option for COVID-19 concerns without sanction and the continuation of the provision of the 28 day grace period after test due date where trade will be allowed.
  • The Revised Protocol provides additional clarity around the area of testing calves under 120 days where the farmer wishes to have these animals tested. The testing of these will be permitted following representation by IFA on the issue.
  • In addition, the guidance for people over 70 being involved in a TB test, farmer or vet, is amended to allow involvement with TB testing if they wish.
  • This version of the Protocol expires on the 1st IFA will be discussing the issue with DAFM in advance of any changes.
  • IFA is seeking a continuation of the current testing protocol.

Latest DAFM TB Figures

  • On 29 March 2020, national herd incidence for TB stood at 3.26% for the year to date, an increase on the comparable figure for 2019 which was 2.64%.

The number of reactors identified through a combination of skin testing and gamma interferon blood testing (GIF) for Q1 2020 was 4,276, an increase of 1,413 reactors when compared to Q1 2019.

  • IFA disagree with the assertion of the Department of Agriculture that the higher levels of TB are primarily attributable to animal movements and larger herd sizes.
  • IFA is seeking a more effective and broader wildlife control policy to address persistent TB problem areas, including a proactive approach in addressing wildlife in advance of major infrastructural works

EU proposed 30-day premovement test for TB from herds over 6 months tested

  • IFA held meetings in Brussels with the Irish permanent attaché, our MEPs and senior officials from DG Sante on this issue.
  • IFA requested the Minister for Agriculture to intervene as a matter of urgency with the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakades, who is responsible for this law.
  • This requirement was passed as part the overall Animal Health Law by the Parliament in April.
  • IFA is continuing to strongly object to the application of this measure to animal movements in Ireland and have again raised the issue with senior DAFM officials.

BVD

  • The BVD legislation will be updated to make it compulsory to have all pre-2013 born animals acquire a test status for BVD. These animals will be required to have either a direct or indirect result for BVD and is necessary to establishing national prevalence of the disease.
  • These are 3,061 animals in this category currently, 75% are male animals (bulls), 25% are female animals that are born pre-2013 that have not had a calf registered to them and as a result do not have a BVD status.
  • These animals have been identified on numerous occasions in the past number of years to the herdowners in whose herds they are in.
  • IFA has sought assurance from AHI and have received clarification, that the herds these animals are present in will not be restricted on enforcement of the new legislation.
  • BVD testing to-date based on the AHI monitoring of test turnaround times is largely unaffected by some labs involved in COVID-19 testing, this is primarily due to the fact the peak of BVD testing was passed before labs commenced COVID testing which meant spare capacity existed.
  • Issues have arisen with postage delays and appear at this point to be resolved. IFA has requested AHI to engage with An Post and to monitor the issue closely.
  • The substantive issue to be addressed in the BVD programme is the testing approach for 2021 and thereafter.
  • This will require detailed discussions with AHI as the EU Animal Health Law requires 18 months of no confirmed PI animals in the country in order to recognise freedom.
  • This brings into focus the objectives of the programme and the costs associated with achieving these objectives.
  • IFA has sought a detailed analysis of all costs and benefits, both short and long-term, of the options available to progress the programme to allow for an informed discussion and decision on the future direction.
  • Latest weekly figures compared to 2019:

Veterinary Medicines

  • The HPRA consultation has concluded on the categorisation of antiparasitic products. The outcome is that Antiparasitic products will become POM’s in 2022.
  • The process now moves to the Department of Agriculture to implement this as part of the SI that will give effect to the New EU veterinary Medicine Regulations in Ireland.
  • IFA continue to pursue the facilitation of Suitably Qualified Persons prescribing these products in order to ensure Licensed Merchants can continue to supply these products without the need for Veterinary prescription.
  • Other areas in the New Veterinary Medicine Regulation relate to the validity period of the prescription for antimicrobial products. The new Regulation requires prescriptions for antibiotics to be dispensed inside 5 days of the issuing of the prescription. This raises a number of issues, including the Schedule 8, which is operated by Co-ops to prescribe intramammaries.

AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance)

  • The Department of Agriculture has proposed a revision to the Highest Priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HPCIA) guidelines. The proposed revision is largely to align the policy with the latest EMA (European Medicine Agency) position. While this is generally seen as an improvement from the current policy, IFA is concerned about practical implementation, potential costs and if the guidance document is transposed into a legislative basis in the New Veterinary Medicine Regulations. In this regard, IFA has sought an impact assessment of the proposals including an assessment of the practicalities of the advice given.

 Fallen Animals

  • IFA has rejected the DAFM support package for Knackeries in the Fallen Animal Collection Scheme because it does not deliver on the key areas for farmers of guaranteed collection and reduced charges. DAFM has agreed to engage in a detailed review of the scheme in the coming months with IFA and all other stakeholders as a result.
  • Issues arose with the collection of sheep in the South East, initially in Wicklow and subsequently in Wexford. IFA locally and Nationally engaged with DAFM on the issue to have it resolved. DAFM has now reported that collections of sheep have resumed in these areas.

Budget 2021 – Animal Health Issues

  • Increased funding for the TB Eradication Scheme to compensate farmers in full for the necessary controls to achieve TB eradication.
  • A Wildlife Control Programme staffed to facilitate increased capture activity in recognised TB problem areas – to include wildlife issues prior to major infrastructural works/deforestation and a targeted Deer Management Programme.
  • Direct funding support to farmers to off-set the costs associated with implementing additional biosecurity measures on their farms
  • Investment in developing and providing pen side testing and analytical tools to farmers and veterinary practitioners to facilitate implementation of best practice advice for veterinary medicine usage
  • Enhanced Regional Veterinary Laboratory service to farmers to support best practice advice on veterinary medicine usage
  • Appropriate veterinary staff numbers must be provided in all Regional Veterinary Offices.
  • Direct financial support for farmers for the testing costs associated with completion of the BVD eradication programme.
  • Continuation of funding levels in the Johnes control programme.
  • Funding for a Department of Agriculture administered National IBR programme.
  • Dedicated budget for the Early Warning System (EWS).

Upcoming events

  • COPA-COGECA AH&W working party teleconference on ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy
  • Teleconference with DAFM on COVID TB testing protocol
  • Discussions with DAFM and other stakeholders on EU Veterinary Medicine Regulation
  • Discussions with DAFM on 2021 TB programme
  • Discussions with AHI on the future direction of the BVD programme
Chairman Pat Farrell
Executive Tomas Bourke

Background: UK exited EU on 31st January 2020 – in Transition until 31st December 2020

  • UK remains in Single Market and Customs Union during Transition Period
    • May seek TP extension before 1st July, but has declared it will not
  • Irish farmers again face the threat of a disastrous ‘no-deal’ situation, if there is no TP extension and no Free Trade Agreement by end 2020 ie with tariffs on exports to GB and increased competition from third countries.

EU-UK Negotiations on Future Relationship

  • Three rounds of negotiations held since March, most recent ended 15th May
    • 11 working groups – including one on trade in goods (incl food and agriculture).
  • Negotiations are going badly – little progress on key issues
    • EU wants a comprehensive partnership agreement covering all areas – UK wants a series of stand-alone agreements on trade, fisheries and other areas
    • EU wants a level playing field on standards in agri-food, state aid, environment, climate change, taxation, etc – UK rejects alignment with the EU
    • Major differences also on other areas including fisheries
  • Next round scheduled for w/c 1st June
  • EU-UK High Level Conference in June to take stock of progress.

 Other developments

  • UK & US have opened trade talks
    • Reports that UK will offer significant tariff cuts to the Americans despite opposition from some cabinet Ministers (Gove & Eustace)
  • UK government rejected amendments to their Agriculture bill
    • Would have required food imports to be produced to the same standards applying to British farmers (Conservative MP Neil Parish)
  • UK published its Global Tariffs to apply from 2021, which assumes an EU FTA.
    • It is based on the EU common external tariff and would mostly provide similar levels of protection but uses a 5-year average exchange rate of 83.6p (current rate 89.5p).

Northern Ireland Protocol (part of Withdrawal Agreement – to avoid a hard border in Ireland)

  • Protocol requires EU Customs and SM rules to apply to all goods entering NI from GB unless they are determined not to be at risk of entering the SM.
  • UK accepts need for some expanded infrastructure for SPS checks at NI ports on animals and agri-food and some new administrative process for customs
  • UK will presume goods moving from GB to NI are for NI and will only charge tariffs if goods are destined for Ireland or if there is a “genuine and substantial risk of them ending up there”.

EU negotiating mandate (25th February 2020)

  • Offers an FTA with no tariffs and no quotas
  • Conditional on robust level playing field provisions and on the terms of a fisheries agreement by 1st July
    • Agreement “should uphold common high standards, and corresponding high standards over time with Union standards as a reference point” in the areas of state aid, competition, employment, environment, climate change, relevant tax matters.
    • Includes a specific reference to not reducing standards in relation to health and product sanitary quality in the agricultural and food sector[1].
  • EU would have right to apply autonomous measures to react quickly to unfair competition.

IFA Position

  • On 20th May, IFA President Tim Cullinan led a video conference meeting with Tanaiste Simon Coveney and Minister Helen McEntee and set out the following position
  • IFA called for the EU to secure the closest possible future trading relationship that maintains the value of the UK marketfor Irish farmers and food exporters, which in turn will ensure the stability of the EU food market.
  • Our objectives are:
  1. Tariff-free and quota-free access to the UK market
  2. A level playing field, based on the high standards demanded by consumers, whereby the UK maintains corresponding standards on food safety, animal health, environment, etc, and
  3. No return by the UK to a cheap food policy, so that their external tariffs and import quotas for sensitive products such as beef, butter and lamb do not undercut the EU.
  • For GB trade to NI, IFA also requires close SPS and customs checks and controls on all live animals and agri-food products
    • NI must not become a back-door into the EU for UK’s sub-standard cheap food imports

Brexit Support Measures required by Irish Farmers

  • IFA has been campaigning for a BEAM II scheme to cover livestock farmers’ €160m losses from May to December 2019, andthe release of the €23m unspent BEAM I funding.
  • IFA is pressing for Government and EU support measures, including:
    • For 2020 up to 17th May, compensation of €111m for Brexit and COVID-19 related beef price losses
    • Full compensation for any further losses during Transition arising from Brexit uncertainty, sterling volatility and COVID-19 impact
    • A dedicated EU Brexit outcome fund of €1bn with flexibility to be scaled up as necessary to deal with all scenarios including the possibility of no deal, ie to include direct payments to farmers to fully compensate for the reduced value of the UK market in addition to market support measures, and longer-term structural and adjustment funding.

Bryan Barry
Association Secretary

 

[1] Annex to Council Decision 5870/20 authorising the opening of negotiations with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for a new partnership agreement; paragraph 103.

EU MFF Discussions

  • Since the COVID-19 crisis the EU Heads of States have not had any further discussions on the MFF.
  • The Commission is now likely to come forward with a new MFF proposal on 27th May in line with the new €500bn EU recovery package. As part of this package a new CAP proposal is likely to be made.
  • IFA has strongly made the case to Government and the EU Commission that there must be no cut in CAP funding and funding must be increased to take account of the additional asks on farmers and inflation.
  • The proposals on the table following the meetings in Feb are as follows. These are the starting points from proposals made in May 2018, Finish proposals in Feb this year and those of EU Council President Charles Michel.

European Council MFF Proposals

  • For Ireland the proposed cut is of the order of about €50m per annum based on the EU allocations but taking account of inflation it is of the order of €90m to €100m.
  • IFA will be keeping the pressure on, at both National and European level over the coming period.

CAP Transition Rules

  • The EU Commission proposals on transitional arrangements for the CAP for 2021 have been passed by the European Parliament. They now go to trialogue between the Commission, the Council, and the EP.
  • IFA had expressed concerns that the EU formula of “old rules, new money” could lead to a situation where payments would be cut in 2020.
  • Following consultation with the Dept. of Agriculture, who have been liaising with the European Commission, payments are protected for 2020. However, a problem will emerge in 2021 if there is not an agreement on the CAP budget before the end of 2020 as the Commission proposals currently on the table will apply.
  • The transitional rules allow for the continuation of other farm schemes into 2021 such as: Young Farmer Scheme, National Reserve, GLAS, ANCs, Sheep Welfare, BDGP and other smaller schemes.
  • Indications suggest that the transition will be for an initial period of 1 year but can be extended as the detail on the next CAP are unlikely to be agreed on time.
  • In relation to convergence, it is up to member states to decide whether they want to continue convergence in 2021. The Minister has stated that there will be no change until the next CAP is agreed.

Details on CAP

  • In the meantime, there has little discussions ongoing at working party level between member states and Commission officials on details on the new CAP.
  • While the last EP ComAgri committee had made amendments to the CAP regulations, they had not been agreed at an EP plenary session and will be discussed again in the Autumn.
  • The new Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategy laid down by the EU Commission on May 20th will have an impact on measures in the course of the next CAP.

DAFM Consultation

  • DAFM CAP Consultative Committees have been continuing with 2 meetings (28th April & May 18th) held in the last month.
  • A revised DAFM SWOT analysis will be circulated shortly. This will reflect the submissions made by a wide range of organisations.
  • This will lead to a needs analysis which will be followed by the interventions that are necessary in strategic plans (both P1 + P2) to be achieved over the 7-year period up to 2027.

Upcoming Events

EU Heads of State – MFF – May 27th

IFA CAP Project Team –shortly – date not finalised.

DAFM Consultation meeting on Needs assessment – June 10th.

General CAP consultation – 25th or 26th June.

Gerry Gunning

Policy Proposals

IFA has made a submission to Transport Infrastructure Ireland on their Greenways draft Code of Practice. A draft submission of this report is attached.

Some of the main proposals made included:

  • Highlighted the difficulties in consulting with IFA members due to the current travel and meetings restrictions, and sought for a post COVID-19 opportunity to have a more complete engagement with IFA members across the country on this issue
  • Restated the Association’s opposition to the use of CPO powers for recreational infrastructure.
  • Called for the introduction of a separate Landowner Engagement Strategy, which works with landowners and sets out a co-design Framework for the development of Greenways, without the use of CPOs.
  • Called for landowner participation in the design process at the earliest stage.
  • Called for the provision of an agronomist to advocate for landowners in each project, in advance of route selection.
  • All greenways must take a route adjacent to field boundaries unless otherwise agreed with the landowner
  • The selection process for a preferred route must have precedence where the largest number of landowners are in agreement for a development, as opposed to the five ‘S’ criteria.
  • Sought an additional consultation process with County Council Members, before planning applications are lodged by project promoters.
  • Called for impact on viability of farm businesses to be included when selecting a Greenway Project.
  • Sought the completion of an Agronomic Impact Assessment Report.
  • Sought right to claim for loss of development due to Greenway.
  • Outlined measures required to reduce risks to animal health.
  • High quality privacy screening should be an unquestionable option for any land owner or adjacent landowner erected at no cost.

The submission concludes by requesting that the proposals made are accepted and explains that further consultation will take place with IFA members impacted.

Market Report

Nitrates Derogation

In 2019, the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) completed an interim review of the terms of the Nitrates Derogation. The latest thinking regarding the forthcoming NAP review can be seen in a DAFM on-line presentation given at a recent Teagasc on-line talk at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRnmWPWHVYM&feature=emb_title

 Activity Since Last National Council

National Environment Management Committee meeting

The National Environment Management Committee held a teleconference meeting on the 22nd of April. Items discussed included Nitrates, EU Farm to Fork Strategy, Framework document for Government Formation, Greenways, Input Price Surveys, Smart Farming Spring Seminar and Renewables. A committee WhatsApp group was also set up.

Engagement for IFA’s submission on the Greenways Code of Practice Draft

The draft Code of Practice was shared with National Council, the Regional Offices and the National Environment Committee on 28th April. Subsequently video calls took place with members of the National Environment Management Committee, Ulster/North Leinster Regional Chair and County Chairs and Environment Committee representatives from Donegal, Galway, Westmeath, Roscommon, Kerry and Clare. Calls also took place with some Regional Development Executives and agronomist Andy Dunne to support the rights of landowners who may be impacted by proposed Greenway developments on their lands.

Sub-group meeting with TII and other farm organisations

Chairman Paul O’Brien attended a sub-group meeting on the development of the Greenways Draft Code of Practice, where he firmly articulated the concerns raised in IFA’s submission and sought more time to actively engage with potentially affected IFA members post COVID 19 restrictions.

Smart Farming Spring Seminar

Due to COVID 19 restrictions, Smart Farming held their annual spring seminar online, which proved to be very successful. Almost 600 visitors went through the Smart Farming website on the day, with our EU Director Liam MacHale also receiving positive feedback and questions from officials in DG Clima and DG Agri.

Other Meetings/ Conference Calls

The Committee took part in conference calls with the National Waste Prevention Committee, An Foram Uisce and the Fertiliser Association Ireland Committee.

EU COPA Developments

Yesterday, May 20th saw the publication of the European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to frame EU agriculture over the next decade. Within the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork element sets ambitious targets to transform the EU’s food system including:

  • a reduction by 50% of the use and risk of pesticides
  • a reduction by at least 20% of the use of fertilizers
  • a reduction by 50% in sales of antimicrobials used for farmed animals and aquaculture,
  • and reaching 25% of agricultural land under organic farming.

There are also proposals that facilitate consumers in choosing heathy/sustainable foods through improved information on food labelling.

Upcoming Issues

The committee will make a submission next month to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, commenting on their publication of a Significant Water Management Issues report, as part of procedures for the River Basin Management Plan post 2021.

Chairman Paul O’Brien
Executive Thomas Ryan

Activity Since last National Council

Proposal for Covid 19 Disruption Support Scheme

  • Letter was sent with proposal to Minister of Finance (proposal was circulated to National Council).
  • The additional capital of €2bn and inclusion of farmers in the Credit Guarantee scheme, renamed the Covid Credit Guarantuee scheme (CCGS), was then announced.

Teleconference with Sean Bell, Chief Economist of DAFM

  • Discussed key tax proposals for the 2021 submission, which had been formulated by the Farm Business committee.
  • Stressed areas of concern for farmers and how to address them e.g. carbon tax.

Teleconference with SBCI’s CEO and Head of Product Development:

  • The additional funds and extension of eligibility to the agri sector for the CCGS were discussed. IFA tried to establish as many details as possible, although SBCI stated that the particulars had not yet been confirmed and had to await formation of the new Government. However, it was stated that farmers who may be interested must get their financials up to date and application process will be via banks, as per normal loan process.
  • Future Growth Loan Scheme has also been supplemented by €200m, which was also welcomed as the original fund for farmers had been allocated.
  • The other loan schemes available to farmers were discussed – MilkFlexi scheme, SME Finanance Leasing (€17m) and Microfinance lreland COVID 19 Business loan (€17m).
  • When all schemes are up and running, there will be a range of loans in terms of size and utilisation to assist farmers.
  • Details of all of these schemes were circulated to National Council on 12/5/20 and are available on the Covid section of the IFA website.

Separate teleconferences with PTSB, AIB and Ulster bank re. supports for farmers impacted by Covid-19:

  • IFA updated banks on current issues and future problems facing agri-sector due to Covid-19.
  • Stressed the need to extend the 3 month breaks to 6 month breaks and that these breaks will not effect customers’ credit ratings – these issues have been achieved.
  • Encouraged flexibility in regard to the breaks and repayments e.g. choice of interest only or no capital / interest payments during breaks; tag repayments on to end of loan or have higher payments and remain within initial term.
  • Urged banks to remove the need for land valuations for stocking loans during lockdown – this has been successful.
  • Highlighted that Co-ops’ & Agri merchants’ credit facilities are becoming maxed out, which will lead to cashflow issues for farmers.
  • Emphasised the need for banks to be ready to facilitate the Covid Credit Guarantee scheme, once ratified by the newly formed Government.

Upcoming Issues

  • IFA’s pre-budget 2021 submission.
  • Further meetings with banks to continue to get updates and provide them.
  • Farm Business Committee meeting.

Inputs Update and Market Report

Fertiliser Price Update

Fertiliser demand had eased somewhat owing to the dry weather. However, with the silage season in full swing demand is now picking up again. Dry spring weather across much of the EU saw a significant reduction in fertiliser demand and particularly for nitrogen. This, coupled with falling gas costs and ample supplies, has seen wholesale CAN prices fall further over recent weeks. Irish wholesale bulk cif CAN prices have bottomed out at €159/t, €13/t under the early April price. Importers / blenders are trying to stymy the price drop at farmgate level and this has resulted in a significant price differential emerging across different regions of the country.

IFA Farmgate Fertiliser Price Survey – May 2020 (big bags, delivered)
Product Min (€/t) Max (€/t)
Protected urea 326 385
CAN 195 250
CAN + sulphur 200 260
CAN (bulk) 187 205
18-6-12+S 296 338
Pasture Sward 298 345
Cut Sward 303 355

*Quads and 50kg bags +€5/t

Keenest quotes are in the northern part of the country with CAN delivered in big bags under the €200/t and pasture sward less than €300/t. A number of the co-ops are operating a loyalty bonus scheme. In many cases their prices inclusive of bonus are significantly higher (+ €30 to €40/t) than quotes from a number of the private merchants. The keenest quotes are for volume orders and or near cash deals. However, some merchants are offering extended credit terms in order to secure good business. A number of the larger buyer groups are securing discounts on the above quotes.

Non-Grain Feed Ingredient Price Update

A weather premium is emerging in the cereals market as dry weather takes its toll particularly in Southern Russia. Demand for old crop cereal on the home market has largely evaporated, as imported maize competes head on against native cereals. This will result in a carryover of both wheat and barley stocks. Nearby Irish soybean meal ex-store prices have eased as logistics get back on track. Latest quotes are at €350/t from now until September and at €333/t ex-port on a run from Jan ’21 to Dec ‘21. Corn bi-products prices remain strong due to reduced availability on the back of falling ethanol demand.

Grain and Non-grain Feed Ingredient Prices*
Non-grain feed ingredient prices
Commodity Spot Summer Oct
Soybean meal €350/t €350/t €342/t
Gluten €232/t €216/t €222/t
Distillers €288/t €252/t €260/t
Rape meal €295/t na €225/t
Hulls €198/t na €178/t
Grain prices**
Wheat €198/t – €200/t €200/t – €204/t €190/t
Barley €165/t – €169/t €166/t – €170/t €163/t – €165/t
Maize €180/t €180/t €174/t

 Activity Since Last National Council

EU AN Expiry Review

IFA in conjunction with the French Wheat Producers Association (AGPB) have submitted a dossier to the EU’s DG Trade Commission Investigation team supporting a case for the abolition of Anti-Dumping duties on Ammonium Nitrate, which have been in place for the last 25 years.

IFA’s earlier campaign succeeded in reducing these duties by approximately 1/3 (€15/t).

COPA Developments

IFA has also succeeded in securing support from COPA on this campaign, despite strong opposition from a number of EU member associations.

Upcoming Issues

IFA will continue to lobby EU Trade Commissioner, Phil Hogan, for the termination of these Anti-Dumping duties, which will save farmers a further €32/t.

Chair Rose Mary McDonagh
Acting Executives Eleanor Ryan

Fintan Conway

Activity Since Last National Council

  • The National Public Health Emergency Team and Health Protection Surveillance Centre provided the following report, as of the 20th May 2020 there has been:
    • A total of 1,571 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.
    • A total of 24,315 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.
      • 57% are female and 43% are male
      • The median age of confirmed cases is 48 years
      • 3,164 cases (13%) have been hospitalised
      • Of those hospitalised, 393 cases have been admitted to ICU
      • 7,708 cases are associated with healthcare workers
    • Dublin has the highest number of cases at 11,733 (49% of all cases), followed by Kildare with 1,379 cases (6%) and then Cork with 1,376 cases (6%)
    • Of those for whom transmission status is known: community transmission accounts for 60%, close contact accounts for 37%, travel abroad accounts for 3%.
    • 87% of confirmed cases diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered.
  • IFA continues to provide advice and representation to farmers in relation to the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. As of the 19th May 8,600 people in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, Mining and Quarrying sectors were in receipt of the payment. For more information on the breakdown of payments click here.
  • The following updates relate to Health and Safety:
    • There have been 8 farm fatalities officially recorded by HSA to date. IFA has issued several press releases with the clear message that farmers must put farm safety first on their farms
    • IFA is in the pre-planning phase for this year’s Farm Safety Week, which will take place from the 20th to 24th The overarching theme for the week will be – It’s Time to Take Safety Seriously.
    • The HSE has confirmed increased funding for Pieta House. In addition to the continuation of the existing HSE funding of €2.03m per year, the HSE has now formally agreed to additional funding of €114,608 per month.
    • The Department of Health has announced that influenza vaccines are to be made available without charge to all children between the age of 2 to 12 and all risk groups.
    • The Farming Resilience webpage continues to provide practical support to farm families on how to maintain both personal and business resilience.
    • A recent survey by Amárach has reported a sharp decline in mental wellbeing due to COVID-19, as many people’s emotional needs are not being met. People are feeling increasingly insecure; their quality of sleep has declined; their sense of community has been affected and their sense of meaning has been unmet. To read full report click here.
    • The Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s National Helpline has expanded and is now offering a free call-back service, which offers people with dementia and family carers from anywhere in Ireland the opportunity to book a 1:1 session with a Dementia Nurse or a Dementia Adviser during the COVID-19 public health emergency. People with dementia and their family carers who want to avail of this new service can contact the National Helpline to make an appointment which is open six days a week Monday to Friday 10am–5pm and Saturday 10am–4pm on 1800 341 341.
    • IFA has partnered with the HSE on the #HoldFirm campaign for people to stay safe and protect each other.
  • IFA has written to the Department of Health to get an update on the status of the Nursing Home Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill. A response is pending.

Upcoming issues

  • IFA will continue to support farmers during the current emergency and respond accordingly to their needs.
  • Develop an awareness and promotional plan for the Farm Safety Week (20th to 24th July).
Chair Caroline Farrell
Executive Geraldine O’Sullivan

Activity since last National Council

Meeting

  • The Hill Committee met on 14th May and discussed a wide range of topics.

CAP Transition

With a GLAS extension being sought, the Hill committee will be pressing for the commonage plans to be maintained, payments maintained and that there are no extra costs put on farmers including planning costs.

CAP Post 2020

  • The Hill committee policy is that in the context of new environmental requirements that designated areas qualify for the new eco-scheme.
  • Locally Led Schemes.
  • All schemes now up and running.
  • Payments are being made to all schemes, with €0.5m being paid out recently as part of the bonus payment in Hen Harrier areas.
  • The Locally led schemes, of which 9 operate in Hill and Mountain areas, are worth around €10m per year.
  • IFA will be looking for many of these schemes to be mainstreamed in the next CAP.

SACs

  • Following the increased allocation of €0.5m for the NPWS farm plan scheme IFA met with the Department in March to discuss details.
  • The Scheme was advertised on the NPWS website and applications were invited. It is available to all farmers in designated areas.
  • 95 applications were received. These applications were assessed based on priority habitat and species targeted, whether site was in a designated area, the significance of the site locally, regionally and nationally.
  • 78 applications were deemed of sufficient standard to take forward plans. Of these 49 plans will be rolled out. The details of these plans have yet to be finalised.
  • An NPWS farm planner selection will take place, to be followed by draft plans being submitted.
  • IFA has called for the plans to be meaningful, with farmers getting payments which relate to restrictions and work to be carried out.
  • While payments initially will be small, IFA sees the introduction of the Scheme, which has been closed since 2010, as a stepping stone to full restoration of the Scheme.
  • With the new Government due to be formed IFA will be pressing for a commitment that the NPWS farm plan scheme is fully restored.
  • Also, as part of IFA’s pre-Budget submission we will be seeking that €10m is provided to the NPWS Farm Plan scheme for 2021.
  • In relation to the agreement on SAC implementation, there has been no further meeting as legal clarification was required by NPWS on aspects surrounding conciliation, arbitration and instances where compensation is being claimed.

Burning

  • IFA has raised concerns with the Department that farmers whose land was burned in April are not penalised.
  • This burning was in most cases not caused by farmers and unless the Department have proof then no farmer should have their payments withheld.

Comhairle na Tuaithe

  • At a recent meeting of Comhaire na Tuaithe, a number of issues were dealt with including:
    1. Countryside Code.
    2. A vision for Comhairle na Tuaithe.
    3. Walk Scheme expansion and Review.
    4. Supports in upland areas from the Dept. of Community and Rural Development.
    5. Updates on Walking Trail criteria, Guidelines for outdoor activity events, Recreation in the Irish Countryside booklet, Membership and Working arrangements working group and National Rural Recreation Strategy.
  • 10 new walks are now included in the Walk Scheme as part of an extension which was secured by IFA in the Budget.
  • The 10 new trails included in the first phase of the expanded Walks Scheme are:
County Name of Trail No. of landowners (approx.) Length on private land (approx.)
Clare East Clare Way 33 36.5 km
Galway Hymany Way 40 60 km
Kilkenny Gathabawn Loop Walk 4 2 km
Kilkenny Kilmacoliver Loop Walk 3 3 km
Laois Binninea Walk Cullahill 10 4 km
Leitrim Leitrim Way 120 24 km
Sligo Keash Hill Trail 3 1.8 km
Tipperary Ormond Way 49 31 km
Tipperary Multeen Way 16 9.4 km
Wicklow St Kevin’s Way 5 2.5 km

 

  • IFA has welcomed the Ministers announcement and has called for an additional 30 walks to be included, to bring the total to 80.
  • In Budget 2021 IFA will be insisting that the allocation of €4m is allocated and spent fully.
  • Currently there are 2,000 farmers in the Scheme, and with the additional walks this will increase to 4,000 and will be worth €4m annually.

Upcoming Events

  • National Hill Committee Meeting – July 2020.
Chairman Flor McCarthy
Executive Gerry Gunning

Activity Since last National Council

TAMS

  • IFA has been in constant contact with the Department since restrictions have been imposed.
  • Approvals under Tranche 16 were issued to around 2,600 farmers in April. There are still 20% of farmers being carried forward to tranche 17.
  • The current tranche 17 closes on June 6th. This closing date was extended by 6 weeks due to restrictions leading to problems for some farmers in making applications. IFA had raised concerns in relation to this extension, as many farmers had expected to start work by mid-year for completion by next winter. IFA is insisting that there must be no delay in approvals being issued later this year.
  • IFA secured a concession, that where a farmer does not have full planning permission at close of tranche 17 (June 6th) that the application will be still accepted but that full planning permission must be secured by time of selection assessment which is around mid-July.
  • Pre-approval or pre-payment inspections have recommenced since the 18th
  • Following the earlier issue to putting in concrete slabs and its definition as essential work, IFA worked closely with many farmers to ensure that work did proceed. Since the lifting of restrictions with regard to general building work, many farm projects are now restarting.
  • So far in TAMS around 28,528 approvals for TAMS have been issued. This is an increase of 1,614 over the past 5 weeks. There were no pre approval inspections for this period.
  • Payments have been made to 15,178 farmers worth €203.5m so far, with 1,458 farmers paid in the last 6 weeks. The average pay out per week is about €1.5m.
  • When the carryover allocation from TAMS 1 is taken into account, €215m has been spent out of the 2014 – 2020 RDP allocation of €395m.
  • In the 2020 Book of estimates, €82.5m is allocated, with about €32m paid out to date. There are probably 2 more tranches left under GLAS when the scheme is due to close on 31st Dec next. However, under EU transitional rules IFA will be looking for the scheme to continue into next year.
  • In Budget 2021 IFA will be seeking an allocation of €120m.
  • The Minister recently announced that the amendment to TAMS would be sought from Brussels to increase the investment limit for pigs and poultry from €80,000 to €200,000.

2020 BPS/ANC Schemes

  • At closing date for BPS 15th May around 129,000 farmers had made application.
  • IFA dealt with a significant number of queries from farmers who had issues with making application with the Dept. These were all resolved with the Dept.
  • IFA had secured concessions on transfer entitlements, whereby signatures will not be required if they can’t be got during the restrictions. These are now being dealt with.
  • IFA will be insisting that maximum flexibility will be sought in the current circumstances to ensure all payments are made.
  • inspections will commence once the pre checking arrangements are concluded around the 3rd week in June.
  • In IFA’s submission to both the EU and Government, we are seeking 100% BPS and Rural Development schemes pay-out on 16th In relation to ANCs, we are looking for 100% pay-out on the 3rd week of September.
  • There are no changes to the ANC Scheme for 2020. There have been some concerns raised with regard to the stocking rate criteria but there are no changes at this stage.
  • On overall stocking limit of 0.15LU/Ha for a 7- month period and the average of 0.15LU/HA over the 12 -month period, IFA is keeping this under review in the context of COVID-19 restrictions on marts.
  • The 2020 rates of payment do not change and the allocation is of the order of €250m.
  • The Department’s LPIS review is continuing in counties Meath, Cavan, Longford and Leitrim. Meetings have been deferred.

ANC Appeals

  • The Department issued the results of Independent ANC Appeals Panel in April.
  • Of the 315 townlands which have appealed, 72 were successful with 22 townlands coming in for the first time.
  • The Department have written to all farmers who appealed. However, for those that were unsuccessful they have not given any detail as to why they were excluded. IFA has called on the Minister to provide this to farmers.
  • Areas that were successful having been previously excluded will get full payment restored this year. New areas will get full payment also. For those not successful having previously been in, they will qualify for a 40% payment in 2020 will get no payment in 2021.

GLAS

  • At this stage 45,189 farmer have got their full 2019 payment. There are still about 2,300 due their balancing 15% payments. The total amount paid out under GLAS for 2019 is €200m.
  • The remaining farmers are being paid as problems are being resolved.

EU Transitional Rules

EU Transitional proposals have now been passed by the European Parliament and will now go to trialogues between the Commission, the Council and the EP.

They are likely to be agreed in June.

  • The Rural Development Committee will be focussing on getting an extension of GLAS 1 & 2 plans for at least another year or 2 (depending on agreement on the next CAP), TAMS, BDGP, Sheep Welfare, and ANC’s.
  • At the last Rural Development Committee meeting held April 30th it was agreed that IFA would prioritise this issue in current Government formation talks.

Farm Assist

  • IFA has been in touch with the Department of Social Protection with regard to the assessment process for Farm assist.
  • While restrictions are in place assessments will be done at DSP office level. The same situation will exist for Appeals.
  • IFA has also called for an easier assessment process to take account of the severe income crisis on farms as result of the restrictions and the fall in cattle prices.
  • Currently there are 6,000 farmers on Farm assist.
  • On RSS 3,200 farmers are having their payments maintained at existing levels.
  • In Budget 2021 IFA will be seeking an increase in the farm income disregard from 30% t0 50%.

EU/COPA Developments on CAP

  • IFA is engaging with COPA and the EU commission on various aspects of CAP such as the transitional regulations, relaxation of BPS rules including inspections, applications dates and earlier payment dates for 2020 schemes.
  • Ongoing dialogue with the Department of Agriculture to ensure a case is made to Brussels on changes to GLAS, ANC and TAMS schemes.

Upcoming Events

Charter of Rights meeting on June 4th.

Chairman Michael Biggins
Executive Gerry Gunning
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