Dairy beef and false figures fall in the firing line at ICSA AGM
At the recent ICSA AGM, ICSA president Patrick Kent told Minister Creed that new thinking was needed.

At the ICSA AGM, president Patrick Kent called for an end to production cost figures that do not make any effort to include a farmer’s own labour cost.

At the event titled “Beef on the Brink”, Kent said the mood among beef farmers was despondent. He told Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, who was in attendance, that a complete re-think was needed.

Kent referenced figures compiled by beef finisher Billy Glasheen that were published in the Irish Farmers Journal which showed his cost of production to be between €5/kg and €5.30/kg.

Sustainability begins and ends with a price for the farmer that covers all costs and leaves a margin

Kent bluntly stated: “This is higher than Teagasc figures which are still in excess of €4/kg because Billy Glasheen has the novel idea that farmers should be paid for their labour.”

He said the days of defending Teagasc’s approach were long gone and that the days of supermarkets and factories exploiting farmers on false costs must end.

Dairy re-evaluation

Kent also called for a re-evaluation of dairy expansion as “the idea that extra bull calves the idea that all these extra bull calves will be reared at a loss is not sustainable”.

The phrase sustainable expansion came in for strong criticism by the president as he said it had been used and abused.

“Sustainability begins and ends with a price for the farmer that covers all costs and leaves a margin.”

Kent said the only rational conclusion for the beef sector was to reduce production in order to cut costs and make beef scarcer.

He again referenced Billy Glasheen’s figures saying farmers should understand that buying a P or O grade calf when beef price was at €3.75/kg for R grades was “completely unviable”.

“There is no escaping the fashion for Jersey and Kiwi cross which is dominating larger expanding, grass based herds.

"The problem is that these calves are totally unsustainable for calf to beef systems.

“Even if you gave a beef farmer €165 along with the calf, there is still no profitability in feeding these calves.”

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'Everything was falling apart' - farmers dealing with depression
The Macra event is being aimed at young people to encourage them to talk about their mental health.

Young farmers were urged at a Macra event to open up about their feelings and take care of their mental health.

The event was part of a series of talks organised by Jonathan Dwyer and John Keane, two north Tipperary Macra na Feirme members in conjunction with Healthy Ireland as part of an initiative called “Make a Moove”, aimed at helping young men in rural areas discuss mental health issues.

Addressing a crowd of 40 young people at Rackett Hall in Roscrea, Bill, shared his story with the crowd.

“I grew up in a dairy farm just outside Nenagh, there was nothing in me that would have ever shouted that I’d have any problems.

“One of the happiest days I ever had was when I got accepted in veterinary college in Budapest when I was 18.

Everything was falling apart in my own mind

“Unfortunately it was pretty soon after that that things started to derail for me. I moved to Hungary at 18 and I can’t explain it but the fun seemed to drip out of everything.

“Inwardly for seven years I was crumbling inside. Everything was falling apart in my own mind”

“I came back from Budapest and went to New Zealand for a while, I had a great time but still I wasn’t right.

“I went back helping on the farm, one day my father and I had very strong words and my mother took him away to cool down.

“When they left I walked out and went to Dublin.

“I didn’t realise that when my parents came back they thought the worst and apparently my father walked the farm looking for me because he thought that I’d done something.

“But I was in a very dark place for three months, I actually remember standing in CopperFace Jacks with no phone but internet connection where I was looking at places to check myself in.”

He told the group that it was soon after that he tried to take his own life.

“One after the other I took the painkillers and drank the bottle of whiskey and got into bed for what I hoped was the last time.

“The worst feeling I actually had was the day after when I woke up, that I’d even managed to fail to do this.

“I spent a couple more days lying in bed and trying to build up the energy to get up. I was thinking about a motorway that was nearby and jumping off it

“Thankfully the guys I was living with somehow got in contact with my parents.”

Going home

His mother and brother came to collect him from the house and brought him home.

Bill said that when he seriously thought about why he was depressed he linked it to alcohol, even the attempt he made on his own life had been after a three-day drinking session with friends.

After two years of therapy and working on himself he says he’s learned how to really live at life.

“With hindsight, the pain the drink had caused me was phenomenal,” Bill said.

“It wasn’t easy but the day I stopped drinking was the day my life changed.”

The next talk will be held on Thursday 25 April in the Anner Hotel, Thurles at 7.30pm.

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The farmer's daily wrap: machinery inspections and crunch week for Brexit aid
Check out all the latest news from the day and get a look ahead at tomorrow's weather.

Weather forecast

Thursday will be a dry evening, with hazy sunshine. It will be dry tonight, with clear spells.

Met Éireann predicts that Friday will be another dry day, but some cloud will develop later in the day in the west of the country.

Top temperatures between 16°C and 21°C.

In the news

  • The Health and Safety Authority will begin an intensive farm safety inspection campaign on Tuesday 23 April, with a particular focus on machinery.
  • The next few days will be crucial, after Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed called for a package of support from the European Commission for Irish beef farmers following €100m of Brexit-related losses.
  • The board of Carbery has set its milk price for supplies during the month of March.
  • The Government is considering drastic measures to tackle ammonia pollution.
  • There was a call to end delays and to change legislation immediately at the IFA Fair Deal protest.
    Graphic images: lamb pecked to death by crows
    A farmer has lamented the loss of a young lamb after crows attacked his flock.

    Ronan Delaney, a beef and sheep farmer in Co Meath, has warned other farmers to take care after finding one lamb with its eyes and tongue pecked out by crows while being born.

    The farmer said the lamb was attacked as it was being born.

    Delaney discovered the lamb on Wednesday 17 April and later on that day found a sheep with one of her eyes pecked out after she became stuck in a field.

    Ronan Delaney said the ewe was still sore after losing her eye when she was attacked by crows.

    Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, he said that crow attacks on sheep are a common occurrence every year, but it was sickening to see the devastation they wrought.

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