FARMERS FURIOUS OVER NON-USE OF IRISH BARLEY IN FEED RATIONS

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IFA Grain Committee Chairman Mark Browne said that Irish tillage farmers are furious over the continued failure of many animal feed merchants to use local barley. “Many growers are left with stores full of barley due to the importation of feed ingredients,” he said.

According to figures from Eurostat, Ireland imported 157,000 tonnes of non-EU maize in January alone, with Canada, Ukraine and Russia the main sources of the product. Mark Browne said if even a fraction of these imports was reduced in favour of native Irish barley, it would alleviate the immediate problem.

“It is inexcusable that merchants would ship feed ingredients half way around the world and not buy Irish grain which is on their own doorstep. Farmers are incensed that these non-EU countries, which do not have equivalent standards to Irish grain in relation to sustainability, the environment, GMOs etc., yet they have displaced native barley in livestock rations,” he said.

The IFA Grain Chairman said at this stage it was time to examine the specifics of the sustainability schemes operating across the Irish agriculture sector, in relation to the use of Irish grain.

For instance, Origin Green which is Ireland’s food and drink sustainability programme, proclaims the importance of local sustainable sourcing; reducing the carbon footprint; and serving local communities. Mark Browne questioned if shunning Irish barley in favour of importing maize produced to lower environmental standards, over vast distances, was compatible with the sustainability principles of the programme.

He concluded by emphasising that tillage farmers would not continue to tolerate this undermining of the Irish cereal sector. He called on all stakeholders in the animal feed sector, including the government and Bord Bia, to address the issue immediately by supporting the inclusion of local grain in feed rations.

Speaking today, IFA’s Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan said the decision by Glanbia and Lakeland to cut their respective milk price was a big blow for farmers.

IFA had lobbied co-ops intensively over the past two weeks, outlining in detail the 10 reasons why they should hold their price.

The IFA Dairy Chairman said, “Today’s decision by both co-ops is unwarranted. Cash flow on dairy farms is critical at this time of the year, with farmers facing increased costs of production across the board.”

“When you consider that Ornua will be paying a €19m year-end operating bonus to member co-ops, up 27% on last year, you’d have to say the decision by Glanbia, in particular, is completely unjustified,” said Tom Phelan.

Smart Farming will begin its 2019 work activities at its spring seminar, by focusing on ways to improve farm returns and enhance the rural environment.

The details of the Department of Agriculture Knowledge Transfer approved seminar are as follows:

Date: Tuesday, 30th April

Time: 1.45pm

Venue: Portlaoise, Midlands Park Hotel (formerly Heritage Hotel)#

Launching the programme, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said, “The Smart Farming programme is a great example of how agriculture can take the lead on sustainability, showing how careful management of resources can reap both financial and environmental rewards for farmers. In 2018, the average farm saved €7,170 while reducing their emissions by 9%. That is a fantastic result for the individual farmer and I encourage all those interested to get involved and see how they too could benefit from these improved practices”.

IFA President Joe Healy said, “I am encouraged by the growing numbers of farmers who want to take part in the Smart Farming programme and share cost savings and environmental improvements with their neighbours. Farmers face increasing environmental asks and the collaborative approach of Smart Farming is a great way to identify cost reductions on farms, while enhancing the rural environment”.

EPA Director General Laura Burke added, “Increased greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture present a clear challenge representing around one third of our total national emissions. The approaches and innovations identified in Smart Farming demonstrate that energy efficiency gains and reduced emissions are achievable on the participating farms. The future success of this ambitious programme will be to mainstream implementation of these measures through wide and willing take-up by the farming community.”

The Spring seminar will be addressed by farmers and presenters from the Department of Agriculture, UCD, Teagasc and the BRIDE project in Cork. They will set out how farmers can:

• Access the Department of Agriculture’s €10m on-farm renewables fund.
• Focus on grass growth and alternative enterprise systems, such as once a day milking and mixed farming of cattle and trees.
• Find out about the important role of crude protein in animals’ diets.

Professor Patrick Wall from UCD will outline how important it is for all the stakeholders along the food chain to address consumer concerns regarding sustainability and the need to be aware of the attributes of sustainability that consumers consider important.

He will emphasise that consumers also have a responsibility to modify their consumption patterns, reduce waste and adopt more sustainable lifestyles.

Launching the IFA Manifesto for the European Parliament & Local Government Elections in Dublin, IFA President Joe Healy said those elected as MEPs for Ireland next month will have some far-reaching decisions to make about the future of Irish agriculture.

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Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture today, IFA President Joe Healy said IFA has calculated that beef farmers have already incurred Brexit losses of €101m since last Autumn. “Farmers cannot afford to carry this loss and it must be made good by the Government & EU Commission. We have already put this to Minister Creed and we are looking for the support of the Agriculture Committee,” he said.

Outlining the key points in the IFA Submission, Joe Healy said the FoodWise 2025 strategy has failed to address the income crisis for beef farmers and will have to be revisited.

“While the strategy has delivered substantial growth in the volume and value of beef output, it has not worked for farmers,” he said. Looking at data over the last seven years, beef exports have increased by €360m or 19%, but there has been no increase in cattle prices or farm incomes.

Joe Healy said the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the Government must address the income crisis at farm level, and implement policies which will deliver profitability to beef and livestock farmers.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said these policies have to be based on returning a beef price to farmers above the costs of production; securing a premium price for a quality product; delivering a fairer share of the consumer price back to the farmer; a strong CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) with targeted direct payments; and ensuring that the European and Irish beef sector are not undermined with sub-standard South American beef imports.

He asked the Committee & the Minister for Agriculture to request the intervention of the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to carry out a report on the lack of competition in the beef processing sector.

In order to bring transparency to the sector, IFA has commissioned economist Jim Power to conduct an independent investigation into the impact of CAP policy; margins along the food supply chain; the value from all parts of the animal; the possibility of devising a formula for a beef price index; and costs of production at farm level.


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