Co Clare pupils win science prize for research on cows and climate
Four schoolgirls fed cattle seaweed, surveyed farmers at the mart and visited milk processing plants to enter the Intel Mini Scientist competition.

Sixth class pupils Méabh McGonagle, Jennifer Mullen, Kate Strogen and Méabh Keenan fom Saint John's Primary School in Cratloe, Co Clare, have won the best project book award in the Intel Mini Scientist competition for their project "Cows: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly".

"There were 8,000 pupils at the start with 2,300 projects," Mullen told the Irish Farmers Journal.

"We made it into the top 1%" at the national final at NUI Maynooth this month.

Strogen said the group decided to study dairy production after hearing about greenhouse gas emissions from cattle.

"The good is the milk, the bad is the emissions, the ugly is the slaughter and slurry," she explained. Although none of the four live on farms, they have farmers among their close relatives and worked with them for their research.

Food safety

"We heard about Joe Dorgan, a farmer from Canada, who found that by feeding seaweed you can reduce emissions," said Keenan. The girls then spent time with a farmer in Co Galway to feed seaweed to cows themselves and observe their reactions.

They also visited the Lullaby fresh milk plant in Kanturk, Co Cork, and the Wyeth milk powder factory in Askeaton, Co Limerick. There, they saw how infant formula is produced and discuss the food safety aspects of seaweed-diet milk with the company.

We found only one vegetarian and no vegan

Next, they studied public opinion, starting with children's attitudes to vegan and vegetarian diets in their own school – going vegetarian themselves for two days.

"From third to sixth class, we found only one vegetarian and no vegan," said McGonagle.

One percent of pupils would considered going vegan and 8% vegetarian. Giving up milk chocolate emerged as a major barrier to veganism, she added.

The pupils went to Sixmilebridge Mart to survey farmers and found that 35% would be willing to experiment with feeding their cows seaweed, and this jumped to 85% if there received financial incentives to do so.

We emailed the Minister for Agriculture about it

The four girls have been sharing the results of their research. "We emailed the Minister for Agriculture about it, made posters around the mart and gave them to farmers," said McGonagle. They received a reply from Department of Agriculture officials saying they would keep the suggestions for ongoing environmental policy development.

Read more

Young Scientists tackle farm emissions

Seaweed vs methane research moves to practical phase

IFA to oppose farm loan sales at AIB meeting
Farmer representatives will highlight the sale of farmers' debts to vulture funds as the bank's shareholders gather this week.

IFA representatives will lobby AIB shareholders at the bank's annual in Dublin this Wednesday.

The IFA will "have a presence outside the AIB AGM in Dublin" a statement from the organisation reads.

It continues: "This is part of a planned campaign to be rolled out nationally against AIB’s plans to sell certain farmer loans as part of its most recent loan sale."

Earlier this month, the Irish Farmers Journal revealed that around 100 farm loans were included in AIB's planned sale of debts to an affiliate of US-based vulture fund Cerberus.

While not a call for a farmers' protest, the small-scale lobbying is likely to be repeated around the country in the coming weeks, an IFA spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

AIB is 71% owned by the Irish Government.

Read more

Banks in last-chance saloon with public

Up to 100 farms in AIB loan sale

Exclusive: Rabobank sells 1,800 farm loans

Queally brothers firm falls foul of EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the latest National Priority Sites list, with five businesses not meeting the necessary environmental standards.

Five sites are on the latest list for failing to meet the necessary environmental standards set out by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

One of the companies, food processor Arrow Group, is owned by the Queally brothers, who also own Dawn Meats.

Arrow Group previously appeared on the environment watchlist in January this year.

All the companies on the list face further enforcement action from the EPA to secure compliance.

The five sites represent less than 1% of industrial sites licensed by the EPA, but account for 21% of complaints received.

Three sites are new to the list, while Glanbia Food Ireland Ltd and Rosderra Irish Meats have been removed from the list that was published in January.

The five companies included are:

  • Arrow Group, Kildare – noise and odour complaints.

  • Euroflex Teoranta, Donegal – emissions to air and waste management.

  • Western Brand Group Ltd, Mayo – wastewater management.

  • East Cork Landfill Site, Cork – landfill gas and leachate management.

  • Arran Chemical Company Ltd, Roscommon – emissions to air and groundwater.

Enforcement

Licensed facilities are identified as national priority sites for enforcement using a system developed by the EPA.

Points are allocated to each site based on compliance data such as complaints, incidents and non-compliances over the previous six months.

Sites which exceed a certain threshold become a national priority site and are targeted by the EPA for further enforcement action.

The farmer's daily wrap: lamb prices, milk production and Donegal wildfire
Here is your news round-up of the top five farming stories today, Monday 22 April.

Weather forecast

Tuesday morning will feature scattered heavy showers but it will be mainly dry for the afternoon/evening.

Met Éireann is forecasting hazy sunshine and another warm day, with top temperatures of 17°C to 21°C in light to moderate southeast breezes.

In the news

  • The Air Corps is to join fire brigades battling a Co Donegal gorse fire that began in the early hours of Monday.
  • Milk production in both New Zealand and the Netherlands has been tightening significantly in the first quarter of 2019.
  • The timing of two religious festivals, Easter and Ramadan, could bode well for lamb prices for the next five years.
  • The Department of Agriculture will host Basic Payment Scheme clinics in Offaly, Tipperary, Westmeath and Monaghn this week.
  • Watch potato, grain and beef farmer Mark McGurdy sow cereals through the night in Co Antrim.
  • - Coming up tomorrow, 23 April 2019:

  • Leitrim suckler farmer Karen McCabe on the never-ending battle with rushes, a weak calf and an unexpected win in the show ring.
  • The latest update from the BETTER farm beef programme from Matthew Halpin.
  • A look at what's happening on the international grain markets from Stephen Robb.