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Farmers urged to take part in Brexit seminar

Francis Farragher

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Farmers urged to take part in Brexit seminar

GALWAY farmers and IFA members have been asked to consider attending next Monday’s special seminar on the Brexit issue to be held in Goffs, Kill, Co. Kildare.

A number of high profile speakers will address the seminar including EU Agricultural Commissioner, Phil Hogan; the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed; IFA President Joe Healy as well as senior representatives from the Irish meat industry.

The conference – that runs from 9am to 4pm – is open to all IFA members, although booking is essential in order for the organisers to ‘get a handle’ on the numbers attending. An attendance of about 600 farmers is expected.

Galway-Mayo IFA Regional Officer, Roy O’Brien, told the Farming Tribune that Brexit was the single biggest issue facing the agricultural industry in Ireland over the coming months and years.

“We are looking at a UK market which takes a large percentage of our agricultural produce – what we desperately need is for this market outlet to stay open to us without any tariffs being imposed.

“Ireland does have a special relationship with the UK but we really need to press this issue home with our own political representatives, the EU and Britain as well.

“We’ve all seen over recent months the impact that currency fluctuations alone can have on markets, so the last thing we need is any form of tariff being applied to our exports to Britain,” said Roy O’Brien.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Agri-Business

Celebrating half a century of co-operative spirit

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Attending the celebrations of the opening of Kilconnell co-operative (now part of Arrabawn) fifty years ago

The 50th anniversary of a game-changing moment for the dairy industry in the county – which saw the development of co-operative milk processing facilities in Kilconnell – was marked with a gathering of founding members and others associated with the plant and the former Midwest Farmers Co-op last week.

Held in Kilconnell Hall, Friday night’s event was one of deep nostalgia as the establishment of the plant in Kilconnell was recalled but also one with a strong sense of positivity for the future as the plant’s as one of Ireland’s finest was equally celebrated.

The journey commenced over 50 years ago with the decision to develop a central creamery in Kilconnell and three separating stations in Athenry, Athlone and Clonberne, which were to be operated by Kilinaleck Co-op.

The Co Cavan co-op had won the tender to develop the facilities but such was the transformative effect it would have on dairying in East Galway that supply would quickly outgrow the Cavan co-op’s capacity and lead ultimately to the establishment of Midwest Farmers Co-op.

According to Brendan Lynskey, a retired dairy farmer synonymous with Kilconnell and Midwest Farmers Co-Op, the existence of a state-of-the-art facility today at the East Galway plant is testament to the foresight and hard work 50 years ago and more of those involved in the then fledgling dairying community.

“As one farmer put it to me all those years ago, not long after the co-op was up and running, we would never be short of a pound after this. It was a different time. A big dairy herd back then was 30 cows and some people were happy to milk five or six cows and leave the can out on the side of the road for collection.

“The start at Kilconnell was a great time and I worked there for a number of years.  There was an awful lot of farmer involvement to get that up and running and the key moment probably was a meeting in Athenry at which it was decided that Kilconell would be the central location and that we would have three separation stations.

“The projected cost of the creamery at the time was €120,000 for Kilconnell and €60,000 to install the additional equipment. That might not do much today but it was an awful lot of money back then and we were up and running in ’66.  The building of it was mostly manual work. I don’t think there was any ready-mix at the time, it was all done manually. There was very heavy concrete work because there was an old time churn with a big base so it needed a lot of concrete,” he recalled.

But it wasn’t long, he continued, before Kilinaleck Co-op would no longer have the capacity to handle growth at Kilconnell.

For more of the history and background of the co-op see this week’s Tribune here

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Agri-Business

McDonagh committed to the Irish beef trade

Declan Tierney

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Supermac's beef burgers will contain 100% Irish beef

A Galway based fast food chain is set to boost beef returns in this country with the announcement of its first Irish 100% fresh meat burger.

It’s a tasty and tempting announcement from the Managing Director of Supermac’s who will now be serving fully meaty five ounce beef burger to his customers.

The fast food company with outlets all over the country now pumps in more than €20 million per annum to the beef industry which comes as a major boost to the industry.

The announcement took place at the annual Tullamore Show when Pat McDonagh a financial commitment to Irish farmers as a direct result of his 100% fresh beef burger.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and IFA President Eddie Downey were also present to hear the announcement from the fast food king.

Those present heard that Supermac’s spend with Irish farmers spanned across a wide range of producers including beef, chicken, dairy and vegetables.

The company is a member of both the IFA and the Irish Grassland Association and regularly features at key agricultural shows including the National Ploughing Championships, the Tullamore Show and Teagasc open days.

Mr. McDonagh said that he was excited by the introduction of the fully Irish beef burger.

“We are using fresh premium cuts of Irish beef, which are never frozen and the burger is cooked to order every time.

“We have overcome all potential challenges which serving a fresh beef burger in prime condition to customers could possibly present.

“The feedback on the product which has been piloted in a number of restaurants ahead of its nationwide roll out over the past few weeks has been extremely positive”, he said.

The restaurant chain was established in Ballinasloe back in 1978 and has since gone on to be a huge success in towns and cities right across the country.

It is now estimated that Supermac’s now serves around 320,000 customers on a weekly basis.

Minister Coveney said that the announcement by Supermac’s was a very welcome development for Irish farmers and the beef industry as a whole.

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Agri-Business

Rubber slats to benefit animal welfare

Declan Tierney

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Rubber slats for use in dairy and cattle housing should be included as animal welfare measures under TAMS

Beef producers might benefit financially if there was financial assistance available for the provision of rubber slats in their farm buildings.

A call has now been made that the provision of the rubber slats come under a popular safety scheme which farmers avail of.

The Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme or TAMS, as it is better know, encourages farmers to carry out safety measures on their holding and are given grant assistance to do so.

But according to Galway East TD Paul Connaughton the provision of rubber slats should fall under this TAMS Safety Scheme.

He said that research had proved that they account for better animal welfare. The Fine Gael Dail Deputy added that some retailers in Britain insist on buying cattle that have been housed on rubber as opposed to concrete.

Deputy Connaughton is now called for the provision of rubber slats to be included as a qualifying measure under the TAMS Safety Scheme.

“Such a measure would allow many small farmers across the West of Ireland to provide rubber slats for cattle, which would result in less lameness and better productivity.

“I believe that the inclusion of rubber slats as an animal welfare measure under TAMS would make excellent sense. It would incentivise the provision of such slats, which have proven animal welfare benefits, which in turn results in better productivity for the farmer.

“I know from speaking to industry representatives that large retailers in Britain now specify that the beef they buy must be from cattle housed on rubber, as opposed to concrete, slats.

“The inclusion of such a measure in TAMS would allow farmers in the West of Ireland to put plans in place for the provision of such slats and to reap the rewards in terms of animal welfare and productivity”, Deputy Connaughton added.

He has now taken the matter up with the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and he will be urging him in coming weeks to include the provision of rubber slats under the TAMS scheme.

“Not alone would this benefit the cattle housed in sheds, but it would also benefit farm productivity and would aid job creation in many local businesses, such as Easy Fix in Ballinasloe, who provide rubber slats to farmers across the region”, he said.

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