So what does 2024 hold in store for farming and politics? Let’s take a little look in the (Zetor) crystal ball.

We’ll be off to a brisk start in January, with the IFA AGM taking place before the slurry spreading season starts. Let’s pray for a few fine days from Friday week, when slurry spreading can commence in zone A.

Right now, you couldn’t walk on most land, and tanks are full to bursting. Farmers need to remember that low emission slurry spreading (LESS) is required this year if you’re over 130kg organic N/ha.

It will be February before spreading can commence in zone C, by which time some commentators were speculating we would be heading for a general election. That looks unlikely now, unless events overtake the three-way coalition. The spring months will see selection conventions for local elections all over the country, and the wide canvas for the European elections, with an 8 June election date for both contests.

Expect to see candidates grilled hard on their attitude to farm and food production supports and environmental supports, particularly in terms of separate finance for these different and important objectives.

Domestically, don’t be surprised if low-interest loans become a demand for farmers from Government. A difficult 2022 has left many sectors cash-strapped, and unless we get a very early spring, the lack of money on farms will have a knock-on effect on vets, feed suppliers, merchants and contractors. Farmers have become used to merchant credit at low interest, but those days are over, and a credit crunch could be in the offing.

The Government is unlikely to repeat a late announcement of nitrates zones maps for 2025. Farmers will expect to know if they are 250kg or 220kg before they start breeding cows. We can expect to see Wexford, parts of Cork and other areas around the country turn red whenever the updated maps are released.


By summer, with the European elections out of the way, the Government will have the holidays to consider who to nominate for European Commissioner. Mairead McGuinness, who has only served a half-term since succeeding Phil Hogan, may want another term, but the general understanding is that it will be a Fianna Fáil nominee.

Micheál Martin has said he will not nominate himself. To do so would leave his party in need of a new leader, who would become Taoiseach, which would lead to some soul-searching among the Soldiers of Destiny as to what direction the party is heading in as we hurtle towards an almost inevitable autumn general election.

That election could be postponed until March 2025, but most smart money is on an autumn poll. Expect an early budget, perhaps around the Ploughing, with voting day in October. No government wants to place itself before the public in deep winter. Will Sinn Féin go into that election bolstered by a strong showing in the June elections? If so, the party is surely poised for Government, with Fianna Fáil in particular likely to come under pressure to form a coalition if the maths don’t add up anywhere else.

Then in November, we will have the US presidential election, with the likely choice between the current old guy or the previous just-as-old guy. If Donald Trump wins, it will have a profound effect on EU politics, and on the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel/Palestine.

After that, it’ll be time to put the Christmas tree up again. If anyone has the energy.