Farmer fury over milk price cuts
A number of farmers have taken to social media to vent their anger at cuts to the milk price.

Cuts made to the milk price by Glanbia have sparked fury among many in the farming community.

A number of farmers have taken to social media to vent their frustration, questioning the milk cut and calling for some form of protest.

The IFA has also lent its weight to the debate, with dairy chair Tom Phelan calling the price cuts “unwarranted”.

Glanbia will pay its member milk suppliers a base price of 28.46c/l excluding VAT for March and Lakeland will suppliers a base milk price of 29.68c/l excluding VAT.

“Today’s decision by both co-ops is unwarranted. Cashflow on dairy farms is critical at this time of the year, with farmers facing increased costs of production across the board,” Phelan said.

“When you consider that Ornua will be paying a €19m year-end operating bonus to member co-ops, up 27% on last year, you’d have to say the decision by Glanbia, in particular, is completely unjustified.”

Anger at Lakeland cuts

There has also been anger expressed at cuts make by the newly formed Lakeland Dairies, which recently merged with LacPatrick.

News of the cut to below 30c/l will surprise many farmers after Lakelands CEO Michael Hanley recently stated that he was confident the milk price would remain over 30c/l in 2019.

Lakeland supplier Jim O’Rourke from Co Cavan told the Irish Farmers Journal he was disappointed in the cut.

“Almost 1c/l adds up to a serious amount of money for a supplier and it comes straight out of our pockets when we have higher fertiliser and meal bills to pay at this time of year.

“There’s a general consensus that with Brexit on the back-burner that markets would hold the milk price.”

Farmers in Northern Ireland supplying Lakeland will also be concerned as this is the second cut to their milk price.

IFA environment chair and Lakeland supplier Thomas Cooney told the Irish Farmers Journal that within the space of several hours he’d already received a number of calls from dairy farmers expressing their anger over the cut.

“There’s huge anger among farmers who are disappointed a cut to price has been applied just as supplies are starting to rise,” Cooney said.

“It couldn’t have come at a worse time for suppliers and we’ll be calling on Lakeland to ensure that the price will rise next month.”

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Shed and hills on fire as dry conditions heighten risk
A series of blazes has hit agricultural land and buildings and a status orange warning remains in place.

Fire brigades from Carrickmacross and Castleblayney attended a hay barn fire on Saturday night in Co Monaghan.

Meanwhile, crews in counties Dublin and Wicklow battled several gorse fires in the hills along the border between the two counties in the past two days.

Wicklow Fire Service reported gorse fires at Clogga, near Roundstone on Friday, and at Ballyfolan in the Kippure valley on Saturday.

Dublin Fire Brigade tackled a number of brush fires along the southern edge of the city, including a gorse wildfire near the Hellfire club on Saturday.

These incidents follow a large gorse fire in Annagry, Co Donegal on Friday, which destroyed two houses in the area.

Firefighters have urged members of the public to be vigilant when out in the countryside this Easter weekend as dry, warm weather conditions continue to pose a fire risk. The Department of Agriculture has issued a status orange forest fire warning valid until Tuesday.

"Most recent fire incidents appear to have taken place on lands associated with turf cutting, but additional risks may also exist on areas commonly used for public recreation," the Department warned.

Controlled burning of vegetation on agricultural land is not permitted until 31 August.

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Casey calls for increased CAP budget
Additional requirements on farmers and inflation should be covered by EU payments, while a Brexit package should include targeted producer support, candidate for MEP Peter Casey has said.

Independent European election candidate Peter Casey has said he would fight for a larger budget for the next CAP if he is elected MEP next month.

“The CAP budget must be increased to account for inflation and to compensate our farmers for any additional requirements imposed on them by the newly reformed policy,” Casey said in a statement this Sunday.

Outgoing MEPs on both the agriculture and budget committees have already passed motions in favour of an increased CAP budget after 2020. The level of funding now depends on contributions agreed by national governments in all EU member states.

Brexit package

The Midlands North-West candidate has also called for direct aid in case of a hard Brexit including emergency EU market disturbance supports, targeted direct producer payments, long-term structural adjustment support and the setting-aside of State aid limits.

“Should we find ourselves in a no-deal Brexit situation, there must be provision for an immediate EU aid package to support our farmers and safeguard the presence of their produce on UK shelves. It is also important that any EU aid takes account for currency devaluations arising from a weakened pound,” Casey said.

He will be among candidates taking part in the first of a series of husting organised by the IFA on Wednesday in Claremorris, Co Mayo.

Click here for a list of all other candidates in the European election.

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Continued rise in non-fatal accidents involving livestock
Due to the majority of farmers being self-employed or sole traders, there is widespread under-reporting of serious non-fatal accidents on farms.

There has been a steady rise in the number of non-fatal accidents involving livestock over the last 20 years, according to figures from the annual Teagasc National Farm Survey.

In 1996, livestock were involved in 23% of all non-fatal accidents.

The latest figures show livestock now accounts for 43% of all such accidents.

Rise in accidents

Minister of State for Trade, Business and Employment Pat Breen said the rise in accidents relating to livestock was largely in line with expansion in the agriculture sector and the significant increases in dairy and beef numbers.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy, the minister said work was continuing with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to encourage safe livestock management.

Under-reporting

Figures would indicate there is widespread under-reporting of non-fatal accidents involving livestock.

On average, 100 non-fatal accidents in the agriculture sector are reported to the HSA annually.

In comparison, figures from the annual farm survey indicate there are between 2,500 and 3,000 serious non-fatal accidents on farms each year.

Minister Breen said the sector was predominantly made up of self-employed and sole traders, who “unfortunately do not always report their accidents or injuries to the HSA”.

It is a requirement for all workplaces, regardless of size, enterprise or sector, to report accidents which result in an absence and the prevention of an employee from performing their normal work for more than three consecutive days.

Fatal accidents

When it comes to fatal accidents, livestock account for 16% of all deaths in the agriculture sector.

In 2018, five people were killed following incidents with livestock.

Cows and heifers are by far the most dangerous category of livestock.

They were involved in over half of fatal accidents, which mainly occurred during the calving period.

Bulls represent 15% of livestock deaths, while horses account for a further 10%.

Previous HSA inspection campaigns indicate that livestock handling facilities are generally good, with the risks of injury arising when handling facilities are either not used or not used properly.

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