Large attendance at first Beef Plan public meeting
There were over 550 farmers at the first meeting of the Beef Plan 2018-2025 in Roscommon Mart last night.

The inaugural public meeting of a voluntary group of beef farmers was held last night in Roscommon Mart. The group, known as Beef Plan 2018-2025, set out its stall in front of a large group of local farmers, with numbers attending estimated to be between 550 and 600.

All farmers attending were asked to fill out their contact details on a registration form and contribute a €10 membership fee.

We have to have the balls and stand together when the text goes out not to send cattle

Eamon Corley, a founding member of the group, said the main aim was to get 40,000 farmers to “act as one”. He said a core long-term plan is to set up a producer group in each county.

“All the producer groups can be linked up. We have to make it happen ourselves. It’s the only way it will happen,” Corley stated.

Retail price

“The retail price has increased steadily over the years, but we are being squeezed all the time and destined to fail,” he added.

As part of phase one, the committee plans to mobilise members to disrupt cattle supply at short notice using text message alerts.

“You could get a text message at six in the morning asking you not to kill cattle,” a committee member said.

The idea behind the short notice is to take factories by surprise and reduce the chance of alternative arrangements being made, the committee explained.

Disruption

Committee member Michael McNally said: “We are going to cause disruption, we are going to be in a fight. If we don’t do this now, our livelihoods are finished."

McNally insisted that farmers should reject the new BEEP scheme, saying: “Let the lads carrying clipboards put the calves up the crush."

McNally also believes Teagasc has a role to play. “They know how hard it is to make money from suckler farming. They need to get off the fence and speak up,” he told the Irish Farmers Journal.

Elphin Mart manager Gerry Connellan also spoke on the night. “They started with the 30-month rule and next it was the number of movements. It’s all designed to bring down the price of beef,” he claimed.

“The IFA and the ICSA haven’t done enough for us,” he stated.

Work as one

Committee member Hugh Doyle said: “If you are to bring anything home from this meeting, it is to realise there is power in numbers, but we have to be prepared to work as one.”

Outspoken west of Ireland TD Michael Fitzmaurice was in attendance. Before the meeting concluded, he said: “We have to have the balls and stand together when the text goes out not to send cattle.”

The meeting in Roscommon was the first of a series of meetings planned around the country. The next meeting takes place at the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris, on 14 November at 8.30pm. More details of the group’s plans can be found at https://www.beefplan.ie.

Read more

Beef plan movement to go its own way

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.

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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.

Farmers protest fresh forestry expansion in Co Leitrim
Protesters call for environmental study before any more conifers are planted in the county.

Members of the IFA and the Save Leitrim campaign group staged a joint protest at the site of a new forestry plantation in Carrigallen, Co Leitrim, on Saturday.

IFA Leitrim chair James Gallagher told the Irish Farmers Journal that a farm is being planted with conifers at the site, and the IFA will display the same opposition to any new such projects in Co Leitrim until an independent study of the impact of forestry expansion in the county is completed.

"A resolution from Leitrim went to the IFA national council in September asking that there would be no new plantations without a full environmental survey," Gallagher said.

Major concern

After the national council endorsed the resolution at the time, IFA president Joe Healy said that the level of afforestation in recent years, particularly by non-farmers and outside investors, was of major concern to local farmers and rural communities.

"Leitrim has 18.9% of forest cover at the moment, the highest in the country," Gallagher said. When hilltops and other areas unsuitable for planting are taken out, he estimated that half the agricultural land in the county is now planted.

"Leitrim will not be the carbon sink for the whole country," he said.

He added that the IFA was still lobbying for the independent study to be carried out, but this had not started yet.

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Drystock farmers should plant forestry on their wetter fields – Department

Afforestation payments to non-farmers doubled in past two years