Navigating the climate change challenge
The final session of the ASA annual conference, moderated by Dr Karina Pierce from UCD, focused on the climate change challenge that lies ahead.

“We have moved out of a period of milk quotas and into a period of carbon quotas,” Professor of European agricultural policy at Trinity College, Alan Matthews, told the ASA conference delegates.

Research shows that the footprint of pigs and poultry, in terms of water and carbon, is much lower than for ruminant animals. Ruminants are less efficient but they can convert edible protein.

Rogier Schulte, Teagasc researcher at Johntown Castle, pointed out that while we are scientifically proven to be efficient producers, the climate change debate constantly gets stuck at the same point about our total emissions targets versus productivity.

Putting carbon efficiency into euro

“It’s true that we are the most carbon-efficient producers of milk and beef. But what’s the point in talking about it if we can’t put it down to euro and cents,” said Prof Matthews. “The pace of change in terms of climate policy is exponential and we need to be thinking about this now,” he said.

Prof Matthews pointed out that we are already 6% to 11% over our 2020 emissions targets. As a country, we will be faced with paying significant fines regardless of whether we are the most efficient producers in the world.

Padraig Brennan, managing director of sustainability development with Bord Bia, encouraged a more positive angle to create a constructive discussion. He identified the fact that sustainable farming practices exist here in Ireland already and it is merely a case of rolling them out nationwide. “We need to see how we can adopt practices already on farms more widely,” said Brennan.

However, it was also outlined by Prof Charles Sable, of Colombia Law School, that we are agreeing to many climate mitigation targets without knowing what the costs of reduction are. “We have no idea what costs we are agreeing to,” he said. “So, no one is going to do anything beyond what they are already doing.”

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.