Lakeland members to vote on rulebook

Shareholders of Lakeland Dairies are to vote on proposed changes to the co-op’s rulebook at a special general meeting in Co Cavan on Tuesday, 12 September.

A key change is the proposed introduction of postal and electronic ballots for voting procedures within Lakeland.

The 53-page rulebook is also being updated with non-gender specific pronouns, presumably to make the co-op more welcoming for female farmers.

For example, when referring to farmer shareholders, the word “he” and “his” is to be replaced with “they” and “their”. Similarly, the word “chairman” is to be replaced with “chairperson” throughout the rulebook.

Meanwhile, Lakeland is to introduce a new 0.5p/l sustainability premium from January 2024. To qualify, farmers will be required to undertake actions that deliver environmental benefits, such as soil sampling and the use of low emission slurry equipment. Similar incentives are already in place by Tirlán and Glanbia Cheese.

Lakeland made the announcement during recent regional meetings with suppliers. Reports suggest that milk price dominated proceedings and the co-op’s chief executive Colin Duffy indicated that markets are currently returning 26p/l, which suggests further price cuts are likely this autumn.

Payment and weather boost for NI farmers

The release of money under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and an improved weather forecast, could provide a much-needed lift to NI farmers over the coming days.

DAERA is expected to starting issuing BPS money from Friday, 1 September, so payments should arrive in bank accounts from next week. The latest weather forecasts also suggest more settled conditions from the end of the week onwards. With spring crops to harvest and slurry tanks to empty, a period of drier weather will be welcomed.

Surge in Irish slaughter cattle imports

A 50p/kg beef price gap in NI compared to the Republic of Ireland (ROI) saw a surge in cattle moving over the border for direct slaughter during July and August.

From 1 January to the week ending 19 August, 13,556 Irish cattle were imported for slaughter at local plants, up 23% or 2,520 head on the same period last year.

However, closer analysis shows the outlined differential has only emerged in the past two months, coinciding with collapse in beef prices at ROI plants. Back in early May, cattle import figures were in line with the previous year.

Since then, beef prices at Irish plants have plummeted and currently, U3-grading steers and heifers have a sterling equivalent around 410p/kg.

In contrast, beef prices at NI plants have hardened after several weeks of pressure, with deals of 462p to 466p/kg on offer for in-spec steers and heifers.

With cattle supplies tightening and a price gap of 50p/kg in favour of NI finishers, reports indicate local factory agents and feedlot operators remain active for heavy-fleshed animals south of the border.

EU vote to pay farmers for carbon

A framework for certifying carbon removals on farms in the EU has moved a step closer, following a majority vote on carbon farming legislation in Brussels on Wednesday.

The European Parliament’s agriculture committee voted in favour of the carbon farming legislation by 31 votes to six.

Carbon removals refer to the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in long-term carbon sinks, such as soils, trees and hedgerows.

This voluntary framework would reward farmers for any on-farm carbon that they lock in, according to Colm Markey MEP, who has been responsible for the legislation at committee level.

The Fine Gael politician hopes that farmers would be paid in line with carbon credits internationally. This week, carbon was trading at around €85/t on the EU market.

Eustice cleared for consultancy job

Former UK Farm Minister George Eustice, who is not running in next year’s general election, has received clearance to start an agri food consultancy business.

Westminster’s advisory committee on business appointments ruled that the outgoing Conservative MP could set up a consultancy, but certain strings were attached.

The committee concluded there was a risk that Eustice could offer clients “unfair access to government” and so various conditions were applied, such as a ban on lobbying government ministers and civil servants.

In his original application to the committee, Eustice said his plan was to offer “project advice to private equity shareholders with investments or potential investments in the sectors of- agri tech, agri food, waste management and water sectors.”

Eustice was Secretary of State at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Westminster from February 2020, until September 2022. Before that, he held junior minister roles within the same department from October 2013.