€100m fund distribution ‘must be fair to all producers’ in beef chain
The ICOS marts committee is seeking an immediate meeting with Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed over the €100m Brexit beef fund.

While the funds are finite in the €100m Brexit compensation fund, “their distribution must be fair to all producers in the beef chain,” ICOS livestock executive Ray Doyle has said.

The marts committee of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) is seeking an immediate meeting with Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and his officials to discuss the proposed new compensation package for beef farmers.

Equitable implementation

ICOS wants the Minister to ensure that the scheme is implemented equitably to include provision for farmers who traded animals through livestock marts.

Doyle said that the package will be provided through implementing regulation from DG AGRI, which is expected to be quite short and will potentially be based on the compensation package given specifically to Finnish dairy farmers directly following the Russian import ban.

“It will therefore be nearly entirely up to the Department of Agriculture to decide how the package is distributed, with little prescription from DG AGRI.

It will not be acceptable that this compensation could be directed to a handful of factory agents

“Undoubtedly, beef finishers have had a disastrous 2018 and 2019, but so too did sellers of weanlings, forward stores and cull cows.

"It will not be acceptable that this compensation could be directed to a handful of factory agents if this scheme amounts to slaughter-only assistance.

“With the Animal Identification and Movement System, it will be possible to ascertain the ownership and trading history of animals before they have been presented for slaughter.

“While the funds are finite, their distribution must be fair to all producers in the beef chain. That is why we are seeking a meeting with the Minister,” he said.

Market disturbance

The compensation package is based on an analysis proving market disturbance, ICOS said.

The analysis takes account of data gathered by the Department on three factors in the period between October 2018 and March 2019:

  • Sterling depreciation.
  • Flat-lining of producer prices despite a usual increase (with a data comparison done with the last two years).
  • Investment and market insecurity in the sector.
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    Taoiseach ‘cannot rule out’ general election
    Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin have both addressed the issue of a general election as counting in the local and European elections continues.

    An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, when questioned by RTÉ on Sunday evening, said he could not rule out a general election, but he would not be seeking to dissolve the Dáil in the next few days or weeks.

    He cited the need to have a stable government in light of Brexit, which he said would continue for a long time, as well as the autumn budget and potentially by-elections at the same time.

    While the Taoiseach said that “others could pull the plug on the Government”, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin indicated that his party would continued with the current confidence and supply agreement.

    He said it was prepared to “work constructively in terms of framing a Budget because of the prospect of a no-deal Brexit".

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    By midnight on Sunday, some 820 of the 949 seats have been filled nationwide, with Fianna Fáil taking 26.9% of first preference votes and Fine Gael taking 25.2%.

    Independent candidates claimed 19.6% of first preference votes, while Sinn Fein took 9.5%, Labour took 5.8% and the Green Party took 5.6%.

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    Waterford start-up VirtualVet helping farmers to track animal drug usage
    Waterford firm VirtualVet is an international company that tracks drug usage in animals associated with the human food chain.

    VirtualVet is one of the agricultural finalists at this year’s National Enterprise Awards, which is taking place on 29 May.

    The Waterford start-up formed three years ago and now has five members of staff.

    VirtualVet tracks and works to change drug usage in the food chain.

    VirtualVet serves three markets:

  • Farmers who must record usage under compliance.
  • Agri-food and animal health industries.
  • Governments monitoring drug usage in the food chain.
  • Services provided

    Speaking with co-founder and managing director of VirtualVet Sinead Quealy, we learned how the company works and gathers the useful drug-usage data.

    “We provide a free service to farmers gathering information on a farm level about their drug usage on animals, which benefits them, as it covers their compliance,” Sinead said.

    “VirtualVet then gets paid for this data by other companies interested in analysing drug usage in the food chain, such as ABP.

    "Pharmaceutical companies also have recently begun requesting this data.”

    “At the moment, 100% of our work is focused on the agriculture sector, but there is potential for movement into drug usage in humans and harnessing the useful data.”


    On reaching the National Enterprise Awards final, Sinead said: “By arriving to this point in the competition, we have gotten the chance to make assessments of the company that we wouldn’t have done otherwise.

    "By preparing ourselves for judging and presentation to the external public, we have been able to make significant improvements to the company.”

    VirtualVet was the winners of this year’s Waterford Local Enterprise Awards and is hoping for success on the national stage this year.


    The National Enterprise Awards celebrate small businesses from across the country, focusing on start-ups, innovation and exports, with the finals taking place on 29 May at the Mansion House, Dublin.

    There is over €40,000 in prizes to be won, with the overall winner taking home €10,000.

    Terra NutriTech was last year’s winners, an ag-tech company that specialises in precision liquid supplementation for livestock.

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    Farmers and machinery enthusiasts have until September to buy raffle tickets to be in with a chance of winning a tractor.

    A 1982 Massey Ferguson 240 is being raffled off this September. The raffle is in aid of Donegal Breast Cancer Clinic and Kevin’s Kids Fund. The tickets are €10 each or three for €25.

    The recently refurbished tractor will be on display at the Inish Tractor Road Run 2019 on Sunday 2 June, which is also in aid of the two charities. The tractor run will leave Malin Head at 11am and tour the Inishowen Peninsula.

    Raffle tickets are available to win this tractor

    “We try to do it for charities that are not Government funded,” said Gary Monagle from the organising committee. “Last year, we raised €23,000.”


    There are eight people on the committee and they all volunteer their time to organise the tractor run and refurbish the tractor that is being raffled off.

    “A right bit of work has been done on the tractor. There are 2,500 hours on it and it’s from England.

    "All the agricultural shops around the area helped us out by donating paint or whatever we needed,” Monagle said.

    If you want to get involved in the tractor run or buy raffle tickets, you can visit the Facebook page.

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