Macra’s young farmer discussion group (YFDG) roadshow arrived in Cork on Monday evening and young farmers were given a chance to air their views.

The format for the night was people working in groups and were asked their concerns, but also what solutions they could offer.

Topping the list of talking points was the changes to the nitrates derogation, which will come into effect in the new year.

One group said the short notice was unhelpful and gave the example of how one of them had made their breeding decisions last April based on being stocked at 250kg N/ha, but now their farm was in the 220kg N/ha area.

Another farmer was going to be down 10 cows this year and will lose out on the income from those cows to cover bank repayments.

Further cuts

There was also concern that further cuts to the organic nitrogen stocking rate could see smaller dairy farms become financially less viable and off-farm employment would be required.

Anaerobic digestion was put forward as a potential solution, while one young tillage farmer suggested there could be more collaboration between dairy and tillage farmers.

They said if there was more dialogue between them, then there could be situations where if they worked together on leased land, it could offer ground closer to the parlour for dairy farms and maintain the tillage acreage.

ICBF changes

The changes to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) beef breeding indices also got an airing, with some beef farmers totally opposed to it, saying continental cattle were the only way to make money, while others made the case for other breeds.

Another contributor felt that there was a total overreaction from some quarters to the changes.

By far the issue that drew the most ire was TB. Described by one farmer in attendance whose farm has been impacted by it, the TB eradication scheme was described as 'one of the biggest jokes the country has ever embarked on'.

Another felt it has become more of a control scheme than eradication, while there were fears expressed that BVD could end up going the same way.

Another farmer noted that whenever there was disturbance of badger setts for road and greenway construction that TB levels tended to spike in the area.

They suggested that the Department of Agriculture should be aware of this and focus on these areas ahead of when work is to take place.

Other events

The event at Oriel House Hotel in Ballincollig, Co Cork, was the third of six events taking place throughout the country, as the young farmer organisation seeks the views of its members.

The remaining roadshows take place in Meath on Wednesday evening this week, Ballinasloe on Monday night and Limerick next Wednesday.