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Change to 12 month grazing rule in DAS could slash funding

Francis Farragher

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A PROPOSED change in the stocking rate requirements for 2014 could further slash funding for hundreds of Connemara farmers who operate a summer grazing cattle system, according to Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív.

The West Galway TD, told the Farming Tribune that he had learned over the past week the stocking rate requirement would be extended from seven to 12 months for disadvantaged areas payments (DAS).

“This would immediately rule out a large segment of Connemara farmers from DAS payments – those people who buy in cattle in Spring and sell them off at the backend. They are running what are very sensible farming enterprises,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

He said that these farmers stocked and grazed their farms in tandem with the natural grass cycle of the year and it would be completely unfair to penalise them for not holding cattle over the mid-winter months.

The Dept. of Agriculture Press Office could not be contacted for confirmation or otherwise of the proposed changes in the stocking rate requirement – Deputy Ó Cuív told the Farming Tribune that his information on the proposed change was ‘reliable’.

“Straight away this will mean that farmers who don’t have cattle on their lands during the month of January, will lose out on their DAS payments.

“Again this is evidence of just another attack on the most marginalised of farmers in the country. The DAS and REPS/AEOS schemes are absolutely critical to the survival of farming in the West of Ireland,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

He said that since 2010, the REPS/AEOS payout to farmers had decreased from the figure of €337m for that year. In 2011, it dropped to €277m; €253m in 2012; €200m in 2013 and for 2014 this would drop down to €184m.

“What is absolutely inexcusable is the failure of Minister Coveney, to put in place an interim environmental scheme for 2014, pending the introduction of the new one in 2015.

“Those exiting from REPS 4 at the end of this year could, with a minimum of administrative paperwork, have been either switched into the AEOS scheme or ‘rolled over’ for another year in REPS, but there was no political will to do that,” said Minister Ó Cuív.

This week, Fine Gael North-West MEP, Jim Higgins, said that the EU had confirmed that this bridging year – 2014 – could be funded from the 2014-2020 financial envelope.

“This confirmation is hugely important – we may have exhausted our 2007 allocation but we have yet to touch our 2014 money.  Financially there’s no need to have a REPS gap year, what’s lacking is the will. 

 “REPS 4 is due to end this year, with no provision in place for the continuation of the scheme – this is a disastrous blow for the 13,000 Irish farmers who will be left in financial limbo for 2014.”

 “REPS is hugely important for family farm incomes. I’m calling for a REPS 4 rollover year, to allow for a seamless transition into the 2015 scheme,” said MEP Higgins.

Connacht Tribune

Saving a link with pre-famine days

Francis Farragher

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THE TEAM: Roofing contractors, Jamie and Eddie Costello; Conservation Consultant, Gerry McManus; Fearghus and Conor Deely, along with their ‘guest’, French student, Joachim Reveillon, pictured in front of their handywork on the old buildings at New Inn.

THERE’S an old saying in farming that from one generation to the next: “You should leave the place in a better state than when you got it,” and it’s a principle that a New-Inn farmer has adopted with a fair dash of enthusiasm.

Conor Deely, with the help of grant aid from the National Heritage Council, is in the process of conserving and repairing two stone buildings on his farm that he can date back to pre-famine times.

His grandfather, Patrick Deely, purchased the farm at New Inn around the time of the foundation of the State back in 1922, and always ensured that the farm and its outhouses were kept in spick and span shape.

“I suppose like everything else, with the passing of time the buildings gradually fell into a state of disrepair, but I remember them as a child being  well kept.

“I always had it in my head to try and bring them back as close as possible to the way they were, but knew that there would be a lot of work involved and a fair bit of money too,” said Conor.

This is where the Heritage Council special grants clicked in – available to farmers in the GLAS environmental scheme who have old buildings or sheds on their farm with strong links to the past.

The grants – up to 75% of the overall cost and with a ceiling of €25,000 – have enabled many farmers to ‘face into’ the prospect of ‘doing up’ an old shed or outhouse that in the past might have been wiped out with the belt of a machine bucket.

Back the years, the Deelys’ old buildings – located on the R348 New Inn to Kilconnell Road – had served many purposes such as animal housing, grain and wool storage, as well as a place to keep small pieces of farm machinery and tools. There was a place for a fire too, possibly for boiling spuds and grain for the pigs.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Dara takes Young Farmer award in a first for Galway

Francis Farragher

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Somewhere under the rainbow: Dara Killeen with his trophy for winning the 2020 Macra Young Farmer of the Year pictured on his farm with his parents, Charlie and Mary; fiancée Beatrix and daughter Isabella.

WHILE it mightn’t have been a good weekend for Galway on the All-Ireland hurling trail, a first ever national title did make its way west last week.

Dara Killeen (31), from Meelick on the banks of the Shannon, took the prestigious FBD-Macra Young Farmer of the Year award for 2020, putting Galway’s name on the cup for the first time since the awards began in 1999.

Son of well-known farmer and lifetime agri campaigner, Charlie Killeen, and his wife Mary, Dara is only in his second year of dairying, where he milks 150 cows on their 300-acre holding along the Shannon in East Galway.

“Traditionally, we always had been sheep and beef farmers, but back in 2017 the big decision was made to go into dairying.

“We brought in our own Jersey X calves, put them in-calf, and established the herd from there. We went for the Jersey crosses on the basis of their high butter fat and protein milk,” Dara told the Farming Tribune.

Moving from drystock to dairy farming is a huge decision for any young farmer but on a long-term basis, Dara felt that dairying offered the best chance of making a decent living from the land.

“It is a huge investment to make, both in terms of the herd and in the construction costs of the milking parlour, that was financed by selling off our existing stock and also with the help of TAMS (Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme) grants,” said Dara.

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.

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

New design aims to take the backache from those last scoops in feed bin

Francis Farragher

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Michael and Brenda Egan with their new ‘Tipsy Bin’ – designed to make life easier ‘on the back’ for farmers.

IT can be the bane of many farmers’ lives in their yard as they try to extract the last buckets of meal from their bin leading to one big stretch and at times a stretched back too.

Now, a Glenamaddy entrepreneur is fully confident that he has ‘cracked the problem’ after designing a meal bin that neatly leans over on a bevel to take the ache out of that final clean out.

A couple of years back while out on his brother’s farm, Michael Egan, noticed how awkward it was ‘to get to the bottom of the bin’ and in one of those Eureka moments he thought that there just ‘had to be a better way’.

An Operations Manager for Kingspan and Rom Plastics before that, Michael set about designing the new bin which also incorporates a flat base and a clever water draining hole to facilitate an easy wash out.

Along with his wife Brenda, they have set up a company called Megafab who are now distributing their new Tipsy Bin to locations around the country but mostly in direct sales to farmers.

“We are aiming to sell directly to farmers and feel that the bin at €299 (including VAT) is quite keenly price with a  small delivery charge, depending on location.

“Initially we had hoped to launch the product in March but then the COVID situation happened so we put it off until October and I’m delighted to say that we’re flying it so far. The bin is very practical and user-friendly,” Michael Egan told the Farming Tribune.

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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