Hypocrisy of some pesticide bans highlighted to EU Parliament
The double standard of banning pesticides in the EU but allowing the importation of food treated with them from outside the EU has been raised by Mairéad McGuinness.

The hypocrisy of banning certain plant pesticides in the EU only to import food from third countries treated with those products has been highlighted to the EU parliament.

Speaking in the EU parliament in Strasbourg yesterday, vice president Mairéad McGuinness said legislators must be wary of how they approach the subject.

She said: “We are not reassuring those who produce our food that we have them in mind when it comes to discussion and debates and legislation on plant protection products.”

She said that when MEPs talked of banning products without identifying what the alternatives were or what the consequences might be, it did not make them look like good legislators.

The specific issue of importing food into the EU where agrichemicals that are banned in the EU are used in their cultivation was raised.

An amendment addressing this issue was supported in the parliament and it asked that the approval process for products takes account of the double standard.

Inefficiencies

Focus was also placed on the inefficiencies that currently exist in EU legislation when it came to the approval of pesticide products.

McGuiness said: “Currently, member states can accept commercial products that have been approved in another member state with similar environmental conditions, but in practice this is not happening. Each member state is repeating the work and approval process due to a lack of trust between them.”

She said this was leading to a doubling up on work and delayed the approval of new agrichemicals and re-approval of existing ones. She added the increased pressure to reduce chemical use on crops sometimes lead to decisions being taken with full consideration or analysis of the consequences.

Replacements

She fully acknowledged that if a product was found to have any negative consequences to humans, animals or the environment then it must be taken off the market.

She did however emphasise that farmers would need replacement products or management techniques in their place.

"Fast tracking of products that are considered to be low-risk is also called for as is further innovation in this area," McGuinness concluded.

What is the most overlooked source of infection on all our farms?
2017 Nuffield scholar and dairy farmer Eamon Sheehan has identified a key source of infection on all farms.

An overlooked source of infection on all farms is water, Eamon Sheehan told the Nuffield Ireland conference in Castleknock on Friday.

“Water troughs grow a biofilm that harbour bad bacteria, putting constant stress on the animals,” he said.

Sheehan also showed the conference a picture of two dead birds he pulled out of a water trough on his farm and asked, “would you drink out of that?”

He treats his water with PIP Water Plus, introducing good bacteria to clear the bad bacteria.

His report is called Microbial management and its importance in the dairy and beef industry.

Antibiotics

The availability of antibiotics since the 1950s on farms has led to misuse and suggests that a lot of their prophylactic use is more of a crutch than a necessity.

To help agriculture meet the antimicrobial resistance challenge, he recommends:

  • That the government removes the 23% VAT rate on vaccines.
  • More milk recording should be carried out by farmers and the government could incentivise this or co-ops could have a bonus scheme for low SCC.
  • Milk culturing.
  • Reducing antibiotic use through better husbandry.
  • Selective dry cow therapy.
  • “Blanket dry cow treatment is illegal in most EU countries,” Sheehan said.

    “Less than 35% of dairy farms in Ireland milk-record, which is comparable to the Dutch in the 1950s. You need to be recording to do selective dry cow therapy because if it’s not done right it won’t work. It needs to be clinical.”

    Reduced SCC

    By milk recording and using selective dry cow therapy over the last three years, Sheehan has reduced the SCC on his farm.

    “The return to a pre-antibiotic era is the greatest threat to agriculture and would have devastating effects for us as an industry. We can show example through leadership in our industry by developing strategies for our own farms and getting involved in current strategies already put in place by industry.”

    Read more

    Nuffield conference: 'There is no threat larger than farmers themselves'

    Varadkar pledges income tax cuts and more forestry on farms
    An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has addressed tax equality and the role of agriculture in climate change in a speech as Fine Gael party leader.

    An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised to achieve tax equality between self-employed and PAYE workers and singled out on-farm forestry and the modernisation of Bord na Móna as priorities to tackle climate change.

    Speaking at the Fine Gael Árd Fheis in Dublin this Saturday, Taoiseach Varadkar mentioned existing tax and pension measures in favour of farmers and other self-employed workers, but added: "We're not done yet."

    Drawing from the experience of Fine Gael members surrounding him on stage, he first addressed the "hopes and fears for the future" of Kevin, a farmer from Co Leitrim.

    Full equality

    "Now we want there to be full equality for the self-employed and businesspeople when it comes to income tax," he said. "There’s no reason why someone who is self-employed should pay more income tax than those of use who are PAYE."

    The 2016 programme for government committed to increasing the earned income tax credit to €1,650 for the self-employed by 2018, but the recent Budget 2019 fell short of that, at €1,350.

    As he seeks to extend the confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil, An Taoiseach pledged to close the gap if Fine Gael stayed in government.

    He also promised to increase the point at which people pay the top rate of tax to €50,000 for a single person, up from €35,300 in Budget 2019, in the interest of "fairness" for those earning average incomes.

    Transform some of our farms from carbon emitters into carbon sinks that produce timber

    Taoiseach Varadkar said Ireland had to move from "laggard to leader" on climate change. "We must and we will meet our 2030 targets for carbon emissions and renewable energy and we’ll do this by transforming Bord na Móna into a green semi-state generating renewable energy and managing waste rather than generating carbon," he said.

    Another key environmental measure will entail "investing in forestry to transform some of our farms from carbon emitters into carbon sinks that produce timber products which in turn help us to reduce plastics," he added.

    Brexit

    On Brexit, he supported the draft withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK. "Let’s seal the deal and let’s get on to the next phase, which is managing the transition period and negotiating a new deep and close relationship with the UK," he said.

    Read more

    Farmers protest fresh forestry expansion in Co Leitrim

    Budget 2019: €200 increase in earned income credit for the self-employed

    Understanding your 2018 tax bill

    ‘Factories need to make a profit’ – An Taoiseach

    Five reasons you need to be at Dairy Day
    The Irish Farmers Journal's Dairy Day takes place in the Punchestown Event Centre from 9am on Tuesday 20 November.

    1. Skills Hub

    The Skills Hub will be running all day. It aims to showcase best practise and the efficiencies required to run a dairy farm in Ireland today.

    2. Calf Shed Talks

    There is no animal more important than the young dairy calf on a farm. Journal vet Tommy Heffernan has a packed schedule of practical demonstrations at the Calf Shed Talks.

    3. Beyond The Parlour sessions

    The Irish dairy industry is vibrant, growing and looking for new opportunities. Where is the future for added value in the dairy chain? What milk prices can farmers expect in five and 10 years time?

    4. Goodie bag

    Get your special show bag with the new Irish Dairy Farmer magazine in it.

    5. KT-approved

    And, best of all it is a Knowledge Transfer-approved event.