Contractors 'paying the price for planning deficit' in untidy silage fields
The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has reported high levels of stones and debris causing machinery damage during silage making.

According to the FCI, stone and fallen tree branch damage to machines, coupled with damage caused by unrolled and heavily-rutted fields, neglected yards, fences and field entrances are a huge cost concern for silage contractors.

"Silage contractors are now paying the price for the advice given to farmers not to roll land, for fear of stunting grass growth," said FCI chief executive Michael Moroney. "Silage contractors have picked up everything from boulders to bed frames, with one contractor taking a full-size field gate into a new and expensive self-propelled mower," he added.

Diesel costs

According to the association, the resulting breakdowns have caused delays for other farmers and put time pressure on contractors, increasing health and safety risks for their employees. This is in addition to elevated fuel prices. With agricultural diesel currently 75c/l more expensive than last year, the FCI calculated the extra cost for a modern silage harvesting system to be in excess of €500 per day.

“We need farmers to understand that to achieve efficiencies from the modern silage harvesting machinery that Irish contractors are continuously investing in, fields and yards must be in a condition to allow these machines and their operators to perform to their optimum for cost-effective harvesting. That demands a basic level of farm planning and land management which most farmers must understand,” Moroney said.

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Two injured in under-age tractor driving incident
Police in Northern Ireland said two juveniles were injured in an incident with a tractor driven by a third one.

The PSNI's Cookstown unit said on its Facebook page that it joined two ambulances and paramedics at the scene in Coagh, Co Tyrone this Sunday.

"Two juveniles fell from a tractor being driven by a third juvenile," police said. "Both sustained injuries significant enough that they required transfer by ambulance to hospital. The tractor should not have been on the road and should not have been carrying passengers."

Officers have prepared a file for the Public Prosecution Service against the driver for "a range of offences," adding that the incident "could have been a lot worse".

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Repeat of forgotten farmers blunder may be avoided in new CAP
There may be a chance to support the so-called forgotten farmers who were excluded by the rules of young farmers' schemes in the past, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has indicated.

Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue asked Minister Creed this week "his views on whether young farmers who are under 40 years of age but that have been farming for more than five years and that are not permitted to access measures currently under Common Agricultural Policy, CAP, including being able to apply for the national reserve and for top-up entitlements will be eligible in the new CAP".

It appears that there will be some member state discretion in configuring the necessary supports

His question was connected to a proposed rule allowing each European country to define what is a young farmer after 2020.

Minister Creed said that while increased support for young farmers in the proposed structure for the next CAP applies to trained "young farmers who have newly set up a holding for the first time" or become head of the farm for the first time, "it appears that there will be some member state discretion in configuring the necessary supports".

This could avoid a repeat of the anomaly that has seen around 2,000 farmers miss out on current schemes.

Consultation

On these and other questions relating to the CAP after 2020, the minster said he would open a new public consultation next month now that the European Commission has published its initial proposal. "Ultimately the shape of the regulations will be determined by engagement with the Commission, member states the European Parliament, but I am anxious that Irish citizens have an opportunity to have their voices heard in the process," Minister Creed said.

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