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Farming

Butchers’ absence gives a monopoly to factory buyers

Francis Farragher

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Bridie and Tom O'Connor, Brownsgrove with their daughter Imelda O'Connor O'Dea at the opening of her safety consultancy office in Tuam last week. PHOTOS: JOHNNY RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY.

THE absence of the traditional butcher buyers around the mart pens has been cited as one of the main reasons for the lack of competition in the lamb trade, following nearly two weeks of price slumps in the trade.

Galway sheep farmers have been left reeling with a price drop of around €1 per kg. over the past week and a half at the meat plants – lambs are now down almost €20 a head from the mid-June prices.

Michael Murphy, Galway IFA Sheep Committee Chairman told the Farming Tribune that once the price fell below €5 per kg. for lambs at the factories, their production wasn’t viable anymore.

“Sadly there is a monopoly situation with the factories. Now nearly all of the butchers source their lamb from the factories which means that the competition just isn’t there anymore at the marts,” said Michael Murphy.

He said that the IFA were meeting with the meat plan bosses this week in an effort to put some kind of floor on the market but there were serious concerns over factories ‘profiteering’ at the expense of farmers.

“While prices traditionally do drop off during the month of June, the cut this year has been particularly severe – down from €5.50/€5.40 per kg. in mid-June to €4.50/kg. this week.

“The scale of this cut is really coming at a bad time in terms of confidence in the run-up to the breeding season. The price needs to come back up to the €5/kg. mark,” said Michael Murphy.

The market situation for lambs has also been affected by a lower than expected demand by live exporters in the run-up to the Ramadan Muslim observance season (June 18 to July 17) as well as increased movement of Spanish lambs into France. Live exports are expected to pick-up as Ramadan draws to a close in mid-July.

Sheep farmers also continue to be angry at the ongoing factories policy of not paying the ‘extra weight’ for lambs that are over the 18kg. to 21kg. category.

IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman, John Lynskey, said that sheep farmers were very dependent on lamb prices for their incomes.

“Many producers selling lambs to date have incurred high costs with meal feeding. It is of vital importance that lamb prices are stabilised and maintained at viable levels to maintain confidence in the sector,” said John Lynskey.

Loughrea Mart – similar to other marts across the county –reported a very disappointing lamb trade at their last sale with reduced factory quotes reflected in the mart trade.

“It’s a sad state when you can get more for a cull ewe than a good lamb,” said a Mart spokesman.

Gort Mart reported prices are well back with little demand from wholesalers and ‘no live exports’ as yet this year. €100 was tops for prices at the part with €85 to €95 a head reflecting the general run of the trade.

Agri-Business

Farmers losing out on beef grading machines

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Deputy Denis Naughten

Beef farmers could be losing up to €168 per head due to the lack of accuracy on mechanical beef grading machines in meat plants across the country.

That’s according to local Deputy Denis Naughten, on foot of figures he obtained on the accuracy of these beef grading machines.

The figures show that Department inspectors have found machines to be out by a factor of at least 10% on 119 occasions over the last 18 months

Deputy Naughten pointed out that the legal tolerance limit set for beef grading machines currently in use in meat plants is a mere 60% accuracy.

Even though the Department inspectors found them to be out by at least 10% on 119 occasions, on only eight occasions was mechanical grading suspended because the machines had to be getting the grades wrong on four out of every ten cattle.

“The mechanical grading machines in use in beef plants across the country today were first trialled and tested 20 years ago by Teagasc,” said the Roscommon/Galway TD.

“At that time google was just invented and people needed an encyclopaedia if we wanted to look something up.

“Technology has changed a lot in 20 years and we now need new hi-tech beef grading machines and new modern rules to operate them so they can accurately reflect the actual grade of the animal. These new rules then need to be properly enforced by Departmental officials to ensure that farmers will not be exploited,” he added.

See full story in this week’s Farming Tribune. The Connacht Tribune is on sale now, or you can get our digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Call for a policy review as TB figures shoot up

Francis Farragher

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Stephen Canavan: Farmers paying the price for TB failings.

THE Dept. of Agriculture must take a fundamental look at where things are going wrong with their bovine TB (bTB) eradication scheme, following the publication of the latest figure showing another increase in the spread of the disease.

Galway IFA Animal Health Committee Chairman, Stephen Canavan, told the Farming Tribune that the latest figures released by the Department were alarming, showing a major increase in the incidence of the disease in the first six months of 2020 as compared to the same period last year.

For the first six months of 2020, there were 9,439 reactors were identified in the Republic of Ireland, up 2,350 as compared to the same period last year – an increase of 33%.

Parts of Galway continue to be hard hit by disease most notably in a strip of the county from the Mayo/Roscommon border to south of Athenry – and in a strip of South Galway extending through central Clare.

“TB outbreaks have been very bad news for many farmers across Galway and especially suckler farmers who find their herds locked up for long periods of time.

“Farmers are doing everything that’s being asked of them but the time has come for the Department to have a fundamental look at what’s going wrong.

“They have to have a look again at their policy on wildlife and its role in the spread of the disease. Their strategy is simply not working and farmers are paying the price in the hardship and financial cost of having herds locked up,” said Stephen Canavan.

He also said that there was a need to review the level of compensation being paid to farmers for reactors while there were ongoing laboratory delays in giving final confirmations of whether an animal had TB or not.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

New REPS is key to survival

Francis Farragher

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Pictured is IFA President Tim Cullinan in Connemara with the 12 Pins in the background along with Gerry Gunning, Executive Secretary IFA Hill Committee; Pat Murphy, Connacht IFA Chairman; Caillin Conneely, Chairman Connemara IFA; Anne Mitchell, Chairperson Galway IFA; Flor McCarthy, National Chairman, IFA Hill Committee; Tim Cullinan; Eamon Nee, Galway IFA Hill Committee Chairman; Michael Biggins, IFA National Chairman Rural Development Committee; Martin Mannion, Connemara IFA and Rose Mary McDonagh, National Chairperson IFA Farm Business Committee.

A MEANINGFUL environmental scheme to replace GLAS – with the maximum payment doubling to €10,000 – is a main priority of the IFA, the Association’s President, Tim Cullinan told farmers on a visit to the West earlier this month

He said that such a scheme must recognise the contribution farmers make to protecting the environment and the provision of public good.

The IFA President said that further SAC designations were unacceptable and he called on the new Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan to immediately clarify the position of the National Parks and Wildlife service.

“Farm incomes are under serious pressure and the value of direct payments are vital to the survival of farming in peripheral areas. Supports to farm income alongside production is what hill farmers need,” he said.

“It is only through a combination of cattle and sheep production, direct payments and a strong environmental scheme in the forthcoming CAP negotiations that this will be achieved.

“Hill sheep production is the main enterprise among the 30,000 farmers who farm and protect the environment in hill and mountain grazing areas,” said Tim Cullinan.

He also warned that the impact of a no-deal Brexit would be felt on all farms and particularly the most vulnerable ones such as in mountain and hill areas. The IFA were now seeking Government commitments on the following five issues:

■ A meaningful environmental scheme to replace GLAS with the maximum payment doubling to €10,000.

■ The new REPS scheme promised in the Programme for Government must be added to any CAP agri-environmental scheme and must reward farmers for sequestering carbon.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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