Department and EU in negotiation over no-deal interventions
Tánaiste Simon Coveney has warned that providing sector specific supports in the event of a no-deal Brexit could see Ireland return to a budget deficit.

Senior officials from the Department of Agriculture and the European Commission are in negotiations over the necessary interventions required in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Both Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Dáil that a team from the Department was meeting with the EU Commission to look at specific supports for farmers, particularly those in the beef sector.

In a statement on Wednesday Minister Creed said that "any tariff regime is unambiguously very serious for Irish agri-food exports to the UK, and most particularly for the beef sector which would be worst affected."

He described the tariff regime published by the UK as complex and said that "the Government is currently analysing the detail in the proposals and the potential serious and negative impact for the agri-food industry."

Tailored packages

The possibility of establishing a central Brexit stability fund was raised by Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane in the Dail. However, Tánaiste Simon Coveney rejected the proposal, saying it would be overly simplistic.

Instead, he said the Department of Public Expenditure would negotiate tailored support packages for each sector.

Minister Creed and his Department have been engaged with the Department for Public Expenditure over the last number of weeks on how a support package could be put in place for the agricultural sector.

The Tánaiste emphasised that the Government had put a lot of thought into this, while also warning that it would cost the State money and may lead to a deficit in the budget.

While it would be a significant challenge, he said, the Government is willing to borrow money or dip into its rainy day fund if required.

In the dark

Fianna Fáil spokesperson for agriculture Charlie McConologue said it was unacceptable that farmers were in the dark on what supports would be available.

Minister Creed responded by saying there could be no response from the EU Commission before any action takes place. He went on to offer assurances to both farmers and the agri food sector that there would be appropriate supports in place if and when they are required.

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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.”

    Assessments

    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.

    Awards

    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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    Win a tractor for a tenner in charity raffle
    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.”

    Volunteers

    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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    This week in photos: Fermoy Mart and silage cutting
    Our top farming photos from the last week include farmers in Kilkenny, Limerick and Carlow.

    Paddy Kennedy spreading fertiliser

    Dairy farmer Paddy Kennedy from Cournellan, Borris, Co Carlow, spreading 27% nitrogen at 35 units per acre. \ Philip Doyle

    Suckler and sheep farmer Micheál Brendan

    Suckler and sheep farmer Micheál Brendan from Aghclare, Co Kilkenny, feeding his ewes and lambs. \ Philip Doyle

    Tuesday's cattle sale at Fermoy Mart

    John Sweeney from Shanballymore, John McSweeney from Kildorrery, Paddy Geaney from Castletownroche and Michael Clancy from Ballyhooly. \ Donal O'Leary

    Tom and Mike O'Neill from Knockanore, Co Waterford. \ Donal O'Leary

    Auctioneer Martin Lonergan selling cattle for Pat O’Riordan (right) from Ballyhooly, as Kevin Casey records all the details of the sale. \ Donal O’Leary

    Pat McNamara bringing in his cows for milking

    Pat McNamara and his son Shane bringing in their herd for evening milking on the home farm at Honeypound, Croom, Co Limerick. Pat runs a herd of 70 cows that are currently milking 25 litres per day at 3.35% protien and 3.95% butterfat on 3kg of meal. Pat is two weeks into his 12-week breeding season and has used AI on his top 25 cows and is now running an Angus bull with the remainder of his herd. \ Donal O’Leary

    Paddy Freyne mowing silage

    Paddy Freyne takes a break from studying for his Leaving Cert exams to help his brother-in-law Walter Burke prepare first-cut silage on his dairy farm in Tobernabrone, Co Kilkenny. \ Philip Doyle

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