Let your tractor bring you to your final resting place
The Dealer is familiar with happy couples arriving in tractors for their wedding , so why not use a farmer's favourite vehicle for a funeral?

I see that 23-year-old entrepreneur and machinery enthusiast Aaron Grew has just started My Hearse, My Way, a hearse trailer hire service, in Scotstown, Co Monaghan.

"I thought, you know what, maybe there's a better way for people to go to a funeral," Grew told me. His idea was to let a vehicle that marked a person's life take them to their final resting place.

He assured me that his hearse trailer is fully road legal, with the required hitch and brake specs, and can be drawn by any vehicle with towing capability. Aside from tractors, he mentioned harvesters, lorries, vans, cars and quads.

"It's all part of the service – we come and hook it up," he said, adding that he covers all of Ireland and the UK. A personalised number plate is also included.

Family members are welcome to drive the combination themselves – though Grew, a licensed artic lorry driver, is well able to do it too.

Grew said the trailer had its first outing for the funeral of his grand uncle, a farmer and machinery fanatic who owned 11 Massey Ferguson tractors: "He bought one a month before he died – a vintage Ferguson T20. People were slagging him, asking him why he was getting another one. We used it for his funeral."

Hire price depends on distance, but I understand it will be a few hundred euros in most cases. Time to update the last wishes in my will!

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Matchmaking and marriage at the mart

The Big Dealer: dancing for rain in Nenagh while Kepak courts 2 Sisters
In this week's Big Dealer, we try our hand at naming a co-op while farmers dance for rain in Tipperary and Kepak chases 2 Sisters.

Naming a co-op: LakePatrick? Or how about Patland?

The proposed amalgamation of LacPatrick and Lakeland Dairies has got The Dealer brainstorming on a snappy new co-op name. LakePatrick seems like an obvious choice, but The Dealer has also come up with Loch Pádraig, Derry Dairy, Border Gold, Brexit Butter and Hanley Vale. Another named suggested is The Only Way is Up, based on the Irish Farmers Journal/ KPMG Milk Price Review. Obviously, these are just some of the ideas and The Dealer is available for future consultation for a small retainer.

Nenagh raindance celebration

Apparently there was joy and jubilation last weekend when the rain poured in Tipperary. Young farmers in Nenagh took to the streets in their tractors, lights flashing and horns blaring. The Dealer heard you would’ve been forgiven for thinking that Tipperary had won the World Cup. I never expected to hear about such a hullabaloo over a drop of rain, but given the drought conditions, I would be willing to try a raindance of my own at this stage.

Who’s next to lead Agriculture House?

The Department of Agriculture must find a new secretary general for the second time in less than four years. While the process will take some time, the tradition has been for the appointment to be internal.

With that in mind, expect to see Brendan Gleeson to the fore. The Dubliner leads the Department’s Brexit and international trade team. Paul Dillon, currently head of the direct payments division, is another likely contender, as is Bill Callanan, currently the Department’s chief inspector. Don’t rule out Anne Derwin, who spent 13 years in Agriculture House before moving to Foreign Affairs last year.

Kepak and 2 Sisters getting very close

As I mentioned in the 26 May edition of this publication, the worst-kept secret in the beef industry is likely to go public very soon. I believe that a deal will be announced soon where Kepak will take over the red meat division of 2 Sisters, which has factories in Cornwall, south Wales and Scotland. Both Kepak and 2 Sisters are major suppliers to the retail and food service trade and this would be further consolidation of the supply chain.

Double award for Irish Farmers Journal

Thomas Hubert pictured with two of the awards he picked up at the 2018 IFAJ awards.

The Irish Farmers Journal brought home two awards from the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) annual contest in the Netherlands last week.

Thomas Hubert and Pat O’Toole from the news team took home the runner-up prize in the print category for their reporting on the campaign by the Revenue Commissioners to generate additional tax streams from Kerry Co-op shareholders. It was published in the Irish Farmers Journal in January 2017 and you can read it at ifj.ie/kerryproject.

Thomas also took home the runner-up prize in the digital category for his multimedia piece on building a dairy industry from the ground up in Kenya. His report from August 2017 is at ifj.ie/kenyadairy

The Farmers Journal Scotland received a distinguished recognition in photography award at the ceremony in the Netherlands. The picture was taken by freelance photographer Craig Stephen. The picture features Iain Campbell of Meikie Seggie Farm, Kinross, weighing lambs before sale.

Supply and demanding times

You could hear a pin drop in every farmhouse in the country as the weather forecast comes on. We’ve always hung on to every syllable uttered by Met Éireann’s forecasters, but now it is as though our lives depend upon it.

Sheer panic has set in. It is not unheard of for farmers to leave their children in the fields to guard bales of straw from opportunist neighbours. Gates are being padlocked and routes planned to avoid going past too many houses, alerting more people to the fact that you have sourced a load of straw.

Long-standing arrangements with neighbours are not necessarily worth their weight this year. You could quickly find that the straw you were counting on has been sold to someone desperate to find something to put into the silage pit.

Fields not farmed in 20 years have been baled – weeds, briars and rushes included. It’s simply the basics of supply and demand. The Dealer knows only too well.

IFA safety role

The IFA has announced this Farm Safety Week that it is appointing William Shortall as its new farm health and safety executive starting from 1 September.

Stark accident numbers show the appointment is welcome and challenging.

Shortall, a Nenagh-based IFA regional development officer, has qualifications in agricultural engineering and health and safety.

He will lead a new peer-to-peer initiative to help farmers advise each other on safety.

Wake-up calls

I hear the latest meeting of Austria’s equivalent of the beef forum was highlighting the threat of a Mercosur trade deal, until a major player in the processing industry warned the other participants that the real risk was now Ireland. In a hard Brexit, Irish beef will lose its main outlet and land more beef on mainland Europe, destabilising the EU market, he said. This has been well-flagged in other major EU beef producing countries, such as France. I hope their governments are listening.

Search on for new secretary general at the Department
The Dealer notes that the Department of Agriculture is advertising for a replacement for Aidan O’Driscoll.

I see that the search is officially on at the Department of Agriculture for a new secretary general to replace Aidan O’Driscoll.

I heard that an email went out to all Department staff this week, notifying them that the Public Appointments Service (PAS) on behalf of The Top Level Appointments Committee (TLAC) is holding an open competition for the post.

It reads: “A vacancy has arisen for the position of secretary general, who is responsible for providing advice to the minister and ministers of state, for ensuring the effective implementation of policy, for the overall stewardship of the Department and its agencies, and is accountable for the proper discharge of the Exchequer and EU funding allocated to the Department."

It also says that the successful candidate will have a proven track record as a leader and senior manager in a large and complex organisation in either the private or public sector, and have the capacity to acquire quickly an understanding of the Department’s wide range of responsibilities at national and EU level.

The deadline for applications is 16 August.

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Who's next to lead Agriculture House?

Justice for O'Driscoll