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Farming

BDGP now losing 150 applicants every day

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A fusion of colour just before sunrise as the morning light peers through a magnificent ash tree against the backdrop of Knockroe Hill in Abbeyknockmoy last Tuesday morning.

THE exodus of farmers from the BDGP scheme (Beef Data and Genomics Programme) continues to grow over the past week with almost 1,400 farmers now having withdrawn after initially getting in.

By the middle of last week, the withdrawals total had reached 1,340 and was continuing to rise, according to senior IFA representatives.

Fears continue to grow for the viability of the scheme unless key changes are implemented, relating primarily to penalty claw backs and the six year duration of the programme.

Connacht IFA chairmen and livestock representatives met with Dept. of Agriculture officials in Roscommon last week in an effort to try and press the case for changes in the scheme but already there are fears that it may be a case of ‘too little too late’.

“Almost five months to the day since the scheme was announced, this was the first time that Department officials have come outside the M50 to meet farmer representatives in the West,” said Connacht IFA Regional Chairman, Tom Turley.

He said that while there were many details and changes they were seeking in relation to the star ratings of heifers and the genomic testing regime, two major issues needed to be addressed.

“Sadly the scheme has not been a well thought out one. The six year commitment is simply too long while the regime of clawback penalties is just a massive disincentive for farmers to either join or stay in the scheme,” said Tom Turley.

He said that in the meantime, the only advice he could give to BDGP farmers was to attend the upcoming information meetings being organised that would be attended by Dept. officials.

“I would say to farmers not to make up their minds one way or another until they go to those meetings. Tease out any concerns you have, get all the information you can, and then make up your minds,” said Tom Turley.

He said that ‘so be it’ if the scheme had to go back to Brussels to be amended. “It is better to have a delayed scheme that works than a bad one that will never achieve the purpose for which it was intended,” said Tom Turley.

The scheme that was introduced on June 5 last attracted a total of 29,531 applications but Minister Simon Coveney confirmed to Deputy Denis Naughten last month that by September 21, there had been 724 withdrawals from the scheme.

However nine days later on Wednesday, September 30, Dept. of Agriculture officials confirmed to IFA representatives at their meeting in Roscommon that the withdrawal figure had almost doubled to 1,340.

Connacht Tribune

Cattle trade still going strong

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Micheál Haverty: Strong demand fuelling market.

A BUOYANT cattle trade looks set to continue through the Summer with marts reporting a very strong demand for stock – and especially so for quality animals ‘up the weights’.

With demand outweighing supply in key markets such as the UK, EU and China, cattle prices are expected to harden even further over the coming weeks.

Factory prices for steers and heifers are coming in at the meat plants this week at between €4.20 to €4.30 per kg as the factories are finding it difficult to source cattle to meet customer orders.

Galway IFA Livestock Committee Representative, Micheál Haverty, said that while the market situation for both cattle and sheep was quite encouraging, it needed to be, given the increase in input costs.

“There have been significant increases in price for fertiliser, fuel – and especially meal – which has taken a real hike.

“But at least with prices having increased for livestock, farmers will be in a position to meet those extra costs but margins are still very tight,” said Micheál Haverty.

Another encouraging sign, he said, was that prices had ‘hardened’ for cattle even before the latest lifting of restrictions relating to the coronavirus.

“Having said that, we are delighted to see the restaurant, hospitality and catering trade coming back to some sort of normality here at home.

“We know that there is a huge demand for locally produced, high-quality beef and lamb – the re-opening of this sector will also be a boost for competition,” said Micheál Haverty.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Miracle of the lost sheep in heart of Connemara

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Five of the Cladoirs at the National Park in Letterfrack.

AN extinct breed of sheep – written off as not hardy enough for the challenging Connemara landscape – has now officially re-emerged after a quarter of a century on the missing list!

The Cladoir species were native to Connemara, but post-Famine they were pushed out to the margins – literally to the water’s edge on the west coast – as other breeds found favour with farmers and land owners.

In fact their name, Cladoir, translates as shore dweller, and in their prime, they were kept mainly for their long wool, as opposed to their meat, before the Famine.

But in the 1850s, British breeds were introduced to the mountains, where they thrived, pushing native Cladoir sheep towards south Connemara. They survived around the coast in small numbers.

An agricultural researcher studied them at a research station in Maam in the 1980s, but the small flock was dispersed after he retired. The breed was deemed effectively extinct in 1995.

However, retired agricultural adviser Seán Cadden and Tom King, a farmer from Westport, were enchanted by the Cladoir story and made enquiries in South Connemara about the sheep.

They managed to assemble a small flock of Cladoir-like sheep, which were then purchased by Connemara National Park in Letterfrack in October 2019. A number of other Cladoir-like sheep were also purchased by the National Park last year.

Last autumn, 65 sheep from this flock were sampled for a DNA test; 56 of those including males and females had significant DNA of a distinct breed – the Cladoir DNA.

Their return from oblivion was officially recognised at the weekend when Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, visited Connemara National Park on Saturday.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Locals thanked for demo backing

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Anne Mitchell: Great local support.

GALWAY IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, has thanked the people of Athenry and surrounding areas for their support during Friday’s Action Day protest.

She told the Farming Tribune that the demonstration was planned to cause ‘absolute minimal disruption’ to the people, schools and businesses of the town as well as being conscious of Covid restrictions.

“We really didn’t want anyone on the streets because of the Covid situation and we also advised that where there was more than one person in a vehicle, and not from the same household, that they would wear masks,” said Anne Mitchell.

She said that they were also acutely aware of the fact that the Leaving Cert examinations were going on in schools around the town which dictated their decision to stage the protest between 11am and 12 noon.

However, one concerned parent who contacted this newspaper, said that the honking of horns could be heard by those who were doing their Leaving Cert geography exam on Friday.

“While I do understand the reasons behind the protest, I just think that the honking of horns should have been left out it, while an exam was in progress,” he said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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