AgriSearch hosts energy webinar for dairy farmers

AgriSearch will hold a webinar on “Dairy Energy Efficiency and Renewable Options” on Monday 12 December, starting at 1pm.

Speakers include Dr John Upton from Teagasc, Moorepark, who will highlight strategies for reducing energy consumption on dairy farms, and William Deane from Action Renewables who will outline renewable electricity options for farmers.

The event is open to all farmers. Register at

Cattle kill edges back to 11,000 head

There is some easing in the cattle kill in NI, with numbers slaughtered last week at 11,006, the lowest kill since the start of October.

The number of cows slaughtered was at 2,779, down over 500 head from the record high recorded in the second week of November. The prime kill was at 7,937, the first time it has dipped below 8,000 head in eight weeks.

However, last week’s total is still nearly 800 head more than the same week in 2021, and the seventh highest weekly kill to date in 2022.

With five weeks of the year still to go, the total kill to date in 2022 is at 461,198 head, which is just short of the 463,616 cattle slaughtered across all of 2021. By the end of the year, it is expected that the total kill in NI will cross 500,000 head for the first time.

Farming remains a high risk HSENI area

The agriculture, construction and manufacturing sectors accounted for 63% of work-related fatalities in NI during 2021/22, analysis published in the latest annual report by the Health and Safety Executive for NI (HSENI) shows.

Overall, there were 19 work-related fatalities in NI during the period, up from 13 in the previous year. The number of fatalities in agriculture increased from five in 2020/21 to six in the last reporting period, the highest of any sector.

A breakdown of these accidents shows that the youngest person was just 21, and died due to a vehicle overturning. The other five involved farmers over 60, with the fatalities due to exposure to slurry gas, falling straw bales, losing control of a vehicle, being trapped under a vehicle and a fall from height off a ladder.

The HSENI continues to engage primary school age children about the importance of safety on farms, and work with the industry-led Farm Safety Partnership to raise awareness around major causes of death and injury on farm.

Tier 2 offer letter to be issued ‘shortly’

The first letters of offer under the second tranche of the Tier 2 capital grant scheme will be issued “shortly”, a DAERA spokesperson has said.

In May 2022, DAERA received 199 applications for the £12m scheme. There is a two-stage process for assessing applications, where initial eligibility checks are followed by a full assessment.

“First stage assessments are largely complete with eligible projects currently in the process of detailed assessment and consideration of award at panel,” a department spokesperson said.

Unsuccessful applicants whose applications have been fully assessed will be “notified on an ongoing basis” by DAERA.

Tier 2 allows up to 40% grant funding on large-scale projects costing over £30,000, up to a maximum grant of £250,000. “All Letters of Offer will specify the timeframe within which projects are to be completed,” the spokesperson added.

AFBI announces new diploid ryegrass

Strangford is the latest perennial ryegrass to come to market having been successfully bred at AFBI’s Loughgall site in Co Armagh.

Seed from the new variety will be available in 2023 through AFBI’s commercial partner, Barenbrug UK, although quantities will be limited to start with.

Strangford is a diploid ryegress with an intermediate heading date around 21 May and has produced high yields under silage and grazing systems in Scotland, with excellent spring growth.

Under grazing management, Strangford is the highest yielding intermediate diploid on the Scottish recommended list.

Food part of national security, says former MI5 boss

Domestic food production is an integral part of national security, the former director general of MI5 has said.

Speaking to NFU members, Eliza Manningham-Buller said the UK government should be consistent in its planning for the country’s food supply.

“Unless we pay serious and thorough attention to our food security, we risk being increasingly subject to global shocks,” the former head of UK’s security service said.

“We need to acknowledge that we should produce as much of our own food as possible and to be able to export what we can, both for growth in the UK economy and to help feed the world,” she added.

Criticism for English farm schemes

Members of a House of Lords committee were critical of proposals for a new system of farm payments in England during a meeting on Wednesday.

The current plan is for the Basic Payment Scheme to be phased out in England from 2021 to 2027, while new schemes are introduced that are mainly focused on delivering environmental measures.

Tory peer Lord Colgrain said one of the new schemes, known as the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) was “too complicated” and had “too little money involved”.

“The last three agents that I spoke to said they encouraged their clients to look at the SFI and at least 90% are backing away,” he said.

The minister responsible for new farm schemes in England, Thérèse Coffey, attended the meeting and pointed out that the proposals are currently under review. She said an announcement on the outcome of the review will be made in either January or February.

“There is no point having a world-class scheme if nobody does it.

“We need to make sure we have something that is sufficiently attractive and deliverable,” Coffey acknowledged.

Badger judgment around Christmas

Wildlife campaigners who launched a legal challenge against a proposed badger cull in NI are expecting a judgement in the case in late December or early January.

The judicial review case, which was heard in the High Court in Belfast last week, was brought forward by the NI Badger Group and Northamptonshire-based organisation Wild Justice.

“It may be close to Christmas, or perhaps even in the New Year, before the judge hands down his judgment,” Wild Justice said in an update to its supporters.