My Farming Week: Dominic Gryson, Tara, Skryne, Co Meath
Dominic Gryson is a goat farmer from Co Meath. He spoke to Shane Murphy about his farming week in the niche sector.

I farm: “We’re currently milking just over 100 goats, which milk all-year round. Our main market for the milk is Knockdrinna Farm for cheese-making. We used to pasteurise and bottle our own milk, but the testing requirements were too much for a small-scale operation.”

Milking: “On average, goats produce 1,000 litres of milk a year, with the special ones producing up to five litres a day. Goats are seasonal breeders, so light and time of year determine what they produce. We aim to have a constant supply of milk rather than one big flush at any one time.”

Diet: “The goats are indoors all year round and fed a diet of mostly hay. Silage may sometimes be fed but it has to be top-quality stuff. They also receive a dairy ration.”

Biosecurity: “I hear of people sharing billy goats for breeding; this causes a serious herd health issue. AI for goats is something not many know about, but it’s something I’m looking at strongly. It’s the safest way to add new bloodlines to the herd.”

Kids: “First-time kidders average 1.2 to 1.4 kids, while with second kidders, triplets are more common than singles. Usually, a Boer breed of goat, similar to a Charolais or Belgian Blue in cattle, is bred to the bottom-end goats. This gives a more terminal kid for the niche goatmeat market. I think it will take the likes of a celebrity chef to use goatmeat for it to kick off any time soon.”

Industry: “The biggest challenge Irish models face is competing with imports. I think a total change is in store to have sufficient milk. This means more volume with a lower price rather than the artisan model, where it’s lower volume, higher price.”

Family: “My wife Fionnuala is a primary school teacher in the local school and we have four children – Diarmuid, 24, Fiona, 22, Roisin, 20, and Oisin, 18.”

Quotable quote: “Goats are a minority, but very versatile and will continue to grow steadily. The problem is that the sector is growing from a very small base.”

Beef and dairy bosses demand Brexit action from Creed
Imposing tariffs on exports would "cripple trade", meat and dairy factory representatives have warned.

Beef and dairy bosses braced for a hard Brexit have handed a list of demands to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

With 65 days remaining to salvage a Brexit deal, the nightmare scenario of a no-deal is becoming ever more likely.

A delegation including Aurivo’s Aaron Forde, ABP’s Martin Kane, Larry Murrin of Dawn Farms Foods, Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland and Conor Mulvihill of Dairy Industry Ireland, met with Minister Creed on Tuesday.

Dairy co-ops want dual British-Irish status for Northern Ireland milk, export refunds and other trade supports. They called for a freeze on tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit and direct income aid for farmers.

Meat factory representatives warned that if tariffs are imposed on exports to the UK “it would cripple trade”, with the additional danger of sterling devaluation in a no-deal outcome.

They called for extra resources to ensure speedy border checks and increased ferry capacity and routes for direct shipping to the continent.

While European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan reassured farmers Brussels is poised to swoop to their aid, a Commission spokesman confirmed a hard border is inevitable unless the British reach an agreement with the EU or delay their withdrawal.

Read more

No-deal Brexit to add 21c/l in cheddar processing costs

EU 'stands ready' to support farmers - Hogan
European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has assured farmers that Europe is planning for all possible outcomes from Brexit negotiations.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has moved to reassure farmers that the EU stands ready to intervene in markets to protect prices in the event of a hard Brexit.

“We have to prepare for the worst. The European Union stands ready to help Irish and EU farmers in the event of a hard Brexit,” Commissioner Hogan said, addressing a crowd of more than 250 farmers at the Kilkenny IFA annual dinner dance on Saturday night.

“We have the tools ready to intervene, including Aid to Private Storage, intervention and a revision of state aid rules,” he added.

Slow

His words will help give farmers comfort that, while Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has been slow to commit to supports, plans for a safety net at EU level are well advanced.

Hogan reassured farmers that the EU is ready for all scenarios, but warned that the Government must also be ready and ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure products can continue to move through ports.

Gloomy

While a no-deal Brexit paints a gloomy picture, vice president of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness is reminding farmers that it could be avoided if a deal is reached between the EU and UK. But, she says, plans are being put in place to deal with a no-deal scenario.

“There are deep concerns about the consequences,” McGuinness told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“We will need to be looking at how you are going to support a vulnerable sector, that will call for money.

"All of those things will have to be discussed in the short period of time before the United Kingdom leaves.”

Lamb prices rocketing ahead
The trade for all types of lamb is strong currently boosting farmers' confidence in the sector.

Factory agents are scouring the country in the hunt for slaughter-fit lambs.

Prices have hardened significantly over the past number of weeks.

Farmers are securing €5.25/kg to €5.30/kg, with specialised feeders negotiating in excess of €5.40/kg for lambs.

The mart trade is booming for all types of lambs currently.

Fleshed factory-fit lambs are selling over €120/head, with €125/head common for lambs weighing over 50kg.

The store lamb trade is on fire, with prices of €2.50/kg to €2.80/kg and higher being recognised for hill-bred lambs.