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A thumbs-up for Budget 2017

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Michael Noonan . . . A good Budget for farmers.

WEST of Ireland farm representatives have given a largely positive response to Tuesday’s Budget but some disappointment has been expressed that the reversal of the ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) cuts won’t be clicking-in for another year.

One of the big positive factors for Galway farmers is the introduction of a new €25 million Animal Welfare Scheme for Sheep that should provide the equivalent of a €10 per head ewe payment.

An increase in funding for the RDP (Rural Development Programme) – from €494 million in 2016 to €601m in 2017 – will allow for the re-opening of the GLAS environmental scheme to 12,000 more participants.

Farmers under severe cashflow problems will also be given the opportunity to avail of a low interest loan scheme to be administered by the main banks and available from early in 2017 with an interest rate of 2.95%.

Another cashflow relaxation for farmers will be a measure allowing them to ‘step out’ of income averaging during a particularly bad year like 2016 – this facility is to be made available immediately.

The RSS (Rural Social Scheme) is also to be expanded with the addition of another 500 places – this should be a boost to Galway participants where there is a high uptake in the RSS.

Galway IFA Chairman, Pat Murphy, said that in general there was a broadly positive response to Budget ’17 from the farming sector.

“We had hoped that the reversal of the ANC cuts would click in from this Budget, a measure that would give a cash boost to many struggling farmers, but at least the commitment is there to do it next year.

“The Sheep Scheme is a major boost to a county like Galway while measures on low cost loans, income averaging and the re-opening of GLAS are to be very much welcomed,” said Pat Murphy.

OPW Minister of State, Sean Canney, told the Farming Tribune, that he had worked hard to ensure that the Budget recognised the difficult year that farmers had endured and their serious cashflow problems.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Move sought on scheme to promote growing of catch crops

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Stephen Canavan: Scheme needed on catch crops.

THE Dept. of Agriculture has been urged to ‘move swiftly’ and introduce an incentive scheme for the growing of ‘catch crops’ this Summer to help any potential Winter feed shortages.

Galway IFA Chairman, Stephen Canavan, told the Farming Tribune that such a scheme would be easy to introduce and would incentivise farmers to grow catch crops such as rape and kale.

“These crops would provide a high-quality feed for stock during the early Winter period and would also give farmers the opportunity to reseed land for next year,” said Stephen Canavan.

He said that while the Fodder Support Scheme (FSS) would be a welcome help to farmers, more assistance from the Dept. of Agriculture would be required to ensure that there were no feed shortages over the coming Winter season.

Fast growing catch crops – such as rape and kale – can be sown in mid to late Summer and still be ready for feeding by the early Winter period.

However, last week, National IFA Chair, Paul O’Brien, hit out at the EU Commission for delivering ‘mixed messages’ in terms of their policy on farmers producing more grain and fodder crops.

He said that while last month, the EU were encouraging farmers to grow more crops for feed, they were at the same time pressing ahead with proposals for reductions in the use of pesticides – essential for crop protection.

“Commissioner Wojciechowski was explicit when he addressed our National Council last month: ‘the EU Farm to Fork policy will have to be re-visited in light of food security concerns.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Challenge is to keep farmers in profit while changing their ways

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Michael Hayden: Bleak 2022 income prospects for many farmers.

“IT’S hard to be green when in the red,” sums up the challenge faced by many farmers over the coming years, according to a leading Irish academic.

Michael Hayden, Assistant Professor of Accounting at Maynooth University, has warned that farmers face a major challenge when trying to balance economic sustainability with environmental sustainability.

“If we want to maintain a sustainable food supply, economic sustainability should not be sacrificed for environmental sustainability.

“Instead, the focus should be on educating farmers and changing work practices to meet the dual agenda of economic and environmental sustainability,” said Michael Hayden.

Writing in the latest edition of the Teagasc TResearch magazine, he points out that many of the farm enterprises in Ireland are ‘financially vulnerable’ with a high reliance on subsidies to provide financial support.

He said that this was particularly the case for beef, sheep and tillage farmers with 87% of beef farmers, 75% of sheep farmers, and 63% of tillage farmers, acknowledging in the 2021 Irish Farm Report, that their enterprises did not provide them with an adequate income.

“With rising costs of farm inputs, such as fuel, fertiliser and feed, placing additional pressure on profit margins for food producers, the outlook for 2022 farm incomes is bleak.

“Recent events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have also increased the complexity of this situation, placing renewed focus on the necessity of having a sustainable food supply,” said Mr. Hayden.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Cautious welcome for fodder aid scheme

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Pat Murphy: Scheme should be open to all farmers.

THERE has been a guarded welcome for the Fodder Support Scheme from farm representatives – after an initial hiccup over the exclusion of hill farmers.

Now, according to Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, farmers with Category 1 lands in ANC areas – essentially hill farmers – will be eligibility to draw the payments: €100 per hectare up to a maximum of €1,000.

Connacht IFA Regional Chair, Pat Murphy, told the Farming Tribune that hill farmers should never have been excluded in the scheme in the first place but at least the situation had been remedied following the U-turn by the Minister and the Department.

“In our view the scheme should have been open to all applicants – dairy farmers are still excluded – given the rocketing costs of fertiliser, meal and fuel.

“The scheme will be a help to farmers, but we feel strongly that more aid will be required given the current situation with costs – and also what’s being projected over the coming months,” said Pat Murphy.

He advised farmers to ensure that by the end of the silage season they all had enough fodder in their yards to see them through the Winter ahead.

“You just never know what kind of Winter or Spring we will get – the key thing for every farmer is to have that bit extra in reserve just in case a worst-case scenario emerges,” said Pat Murphy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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