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IFA National Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan today (Wed) said the small increase in the September Ornua PPI to 103.8 points (30.9c/l incl VAT), was clear validation of IFA’s case that co-ops must stop the slide on milk prices, and start thinking about ways to improve farmer pay-outs over the coming months.

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IFA SAC Project Chairman Padraic Joyce has welcomed the €1m announcement in yesterday’s Budget for the Farm Plan Scheme. However, this must be seen as a stepping stone to a much broader scheme to address the serious impact of land designations on farmers.

At a recent meeting with Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan in advance of the Budget, IFA called on her to properly compensate farmers for restrictions imposed on them with designated Natura land, through the reopening of the NPWS Farm Plan. This Budget move is the first recognition for some time that farmers have a burden on their land which must be compensated for.

“We have been in discussions with her Department for the past 18 months, with a deal yet to be finalised.  Critical to any agreement with Government is a package of measures including the re-opening of the NPWS farm plan scheme, which has been closed since 2010. The Budget decision should now allow this to happen,” he said.

“While a final agreement with the Department is close, the main issue for Minister Madigan is a meaningful compensation scheme for farmers affected by designations. The announcement in yesterday’s Budget must now result in the reopening of the NPWS farm plan scheme,” he said.

Padraic Joyce pointed out that there has some progress made in the talks on conciliation and arbitration to determine losses; the principle of payment for the provision of ecosystem services; a claims process where a farmer is refused consent to carry out activities on their land; and a commitment to conclude the Hen Harrier threat response plan.

Many of these issues have been dragging on for 18 months, since talks commenced on a new agreement on procedures and compensation arrangements for farmers with designated land.   However, the Minister must now get these issues over the line.

No change in the pig market in the last 7 days, with reports to the IFA indicate that pig farmers are being quoted €1.84-€1.86c/kg by the main pig processors this week. Spot loads and some of the more domestic focus factories are paying higher than this again. The national pig kill remains very constant at 65,722 last week.

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IFA and Western Forestry Co-operative announce the “Value Your Forest Asset” roadshow, a series of meetings taking place in October and November. The aim of these events is to increase farmers’ understanding of the value of their forest asset and how best to optimise returns.

IFA Farm Forestry Chair, Vincent Nally said that many farmers planted forestry due to the grants and forest premiums available, but have limited knowledge of the value of their forest as it matures.

The meetings will present the results of specially commissioned forest valuation research that will give farmers an insight into the value of their forest asset, as well as the timber value as the crop matures.

“There has been a significant increase in the demand for semi-mature forests in recent years. It is vital that farmers understand the value of their forest so they can make the best decision for their farm business,” said Vincent Nally.

Marina Conway, Western Forestry Co-operative said good forestry management will be a key focus of the meetings.

“I will be sharing examples of returns to farmers from harvests, as well as the key lessons we have learnt from managing harvesting operations in farm forests,” she said.

Vincent Nally encouraged farmers to attend the meetings to learn more about the value contained in farm forests.

IFA President Joe Healy has called on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to extend the period during which slurry can be spread.

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