Lakeland suppliers make one in four MilkFlex loan applications
The loan scheme allows farmers to adjust their repayments in times of price volatility or disease issues in their herd.

One in every four MilkFlex loan applications last year came from Lakeland Dairies suppliers.

The loan scheme was developed in 2016 to give dairy farmers access to funding that insulates the borrowings from price volatility as well as disease in the herd.

It has built-in ‘flex triggers’ that allow a farmer to adjust his or her loan repayment terms in response to volatile movements in milk price or disease outbreak, which could typically put farm finances under pressure.

Since the second phase of Milkflex opened last year, some 800 farmers nationwide have applied. More than 210 of those were Lakeland farmers.

Workshops

The co-op has hosted a series of information workshops in Cavan, Kells, Castleblayney and Mullingar to give farmers a better understanding of how the loan scheme works.

Lakeland Dairies chair Alo Duffy said: “We are delighted to be able to facilitate our suppliers with the MilkFlex loan and we are encouraged to see such a strong uptake.

“It is an innovative tool for farmers to borrow money at competitive rates to help facilitate critical on-farm investments. Tools that help hedge against volatility in the market are to be encouraged.”

MilkFlex loans can be used for on-farm investments or to refinance existing merchant or bank debt. The eight-year loans have an interest rate of 3.75%.

They are managed by Finance Ireland with funding from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and Rabobank.

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Agricultural businesses in the running for €40,000 enterprise awards prize fund
The National Enterprise Awards celebrate Ireland’s small businesses with specific awards included, focusing on start-ups, innovation and exports.

Agricultural businesses are in the running for the investment prize fund of €40,000 at the National Enterprise Awards Finals on 29 May. The awards, an initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices, celebrate Ireland’s small businesses from all across the country with specific awards focusing on start-ups, innovation and exports.

Last year’s winners Terra NutriTech are an AgTech company, backed by Local Enterprise Office Kildare. Established by brothers Padraig and Tom Hennessy, their company specialises in precision liquid supplementation for livestock.

Brothers Tom and Padraig Hennessy of Terra NutriTech who announced a €2m investment, expansion into six countries in 2019 and plans to double their workforce by 2021. \ Jeff Harvey

Since winning in 2018, Terra NutriTech have become a client company of Enterprise Ireland, adding a further seven staff and hope to double their workforce by 2021 following a recent €2m investment.

“It is much more than just awards. The businesses involved avail of mentoring and guidance as the process develops and generate connections and leads from other businesses along the way.

"They also receive signposting for their business helping them to move their company forward, irrespective of whether they win an award,” Breda Fox, chair of the National Enterprise Awards Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices, said.

“Those who do take part always see the benefit. Our winners are now employing over 830 people and are exporting across the world with annual revenues in excess of €130m.”

Finalists

Agricultural finalists:

  • Clonmel Covers, Tipperary: manufacturing windbreakers for farm buildings, as well as waterproof covers for trucks, boats and machine covers.
  • NeighbourFood, Cork city: an online platform that facilitates the sale of local products direct from producers to consumers by means of a weekly collection point. With 13 locations currently across the UK and Ireland, NeighbourFood hopes to have nationwide collection points by the end of 2019.
  • VirtualVet, Waterford: an international data management company that tracks drug usage in animals in the food chain. VirtualVet and agricultural food partners work together to change drug use behaviour in the food chain.
  • Class Grass Limited T/A The Field, Roscommon: supplies a range of hand-crafted model toy field products to Irish, UK, European and US markets.
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    EU adopts new rules on fertiliser quality and safety
    The new fertiliser rules will cover all types of fertiliser in the EU and will set limits on contaminants such as cadmium.

    The EU has adopted new rules for fertiliser products placed on the European market aimed at ensuring their quality and safety.

    The regulation harmonises the requirements for fertilisers produced from phosphate minerals and from organic or secondary raw materials. It sets limits for contaminants in fertiliser such as cadmium and outlines labelling requirements.

    Cadmium and other fertiliser contaminants can potentially pose a risk to human, animal and plant health as well as the environment.

    Rules

    Nearly half of the fertilisers on the EU market are not covered by the existing legislation, the 2003 Fertilisers Regulation. Existing rules cover mainly conventional fertilisers, typically extracted from mines or produced chemically while the new regulation will cover all types of fertiliser.

    The Romanian Minister of Economy Niculae Badalau, who oversaw the passing of the regulation, said: “These new rules will ensure that only fertilisers that meet high quality and safety EU-wide requirements and standards can be sold freely across the EU.”

    Fertilisers which fulfil the new requirements will bear the "CE" marking and benefit from free circulation in the internal market of the EU. Fertilisers that do not bear the CE marking will still have the possibility of placing them on their national market.

    The limits for cadmium content in CE-marked phosphate fertilisers will be 60mg/kg.

    Organic fertilisers

    The regulation should prove a boost to the production and use of phosphate fertilisers with low cadmium content and of organic fertilisers. Minister Badalau said it would provide a greater choice to farmers oriented towards more environmental-friendly agriculture.

    The regulations will now be signed and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Following its publication it will enter into force after 20 days and start applying from three years after that.

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    New EU fertiliser regulations now in place

    Farmer airlifted to hospital following cow attack
    The farmer is in hospital following the attack but his condition is not life threatening.

    A Cavan man in his 60s was airlifted to hospital following an attack by a cow on a farm in Bailieboro, Co Cavan.

    The incident occurred at midday on Tuesday 21 May and the man received “serious injuries”, according to Gardaí.

    He is currently in Tallaght University Hospital but his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

    Gardaí and HSA are also investigating the death of a farmer involving a tractor which occurred in Fermoy last week.