Simplification of fodder scheme signalled – ICSA
The ICSA has been actively campaigning for the simplification of the fodder scheme.

The ICSA has stated that it has received assurances from Department of Agriculture officials that the Fodder Transport Support Measure introduced by Minister Michael Creed at the end of January will be simplified.

The scheme is difficult to navigate as has been evidenced in the low take up

Following a meeting between the ICSA and Department officials in Backweston, the ICSA Connaught/Ulster VP Jim Harrison said: “ICSA has received an assurance from the Department that elements of the scheme will now be revisited with a view to making the scheme more user-friendly.”

To date co-ops have reported an extremely low uptake in the fodder scheme, and only two official submissions have been made to the Department for compensation.

Last year

Last year, over 400 farmers in the north and northwest stated that they were short on fodder to some extent following an unseasonable wet summer in the region.

The scheme has been mired in controversy, as the ICSA uncovered that only certain counties were eligible for the scheme.

ICSA Cavan chairman Hugh Farrell said: “It has become blatantly apparent that the scheme is difficult to navigate as has been evidenced in the low take up to date.

“This message has now been taken on board by the Department who will assess where changes can be made in order to make the scheme more workable.”

Farrell concluded by urging farmers to complete fodder budgets and submit them to their agricultural advisors to make the Department aware of the growing demand for fodder following Storm Emma, which has resulted in an extended housing period.

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Fodder scheme 'inadequate' for dealing with cold snap – IFA

Watch: farmers protest over low vegetable prices in Dublin
Farmers from the IFA held a protest outside Marks & Spencer in Liffey Valley on Friday over reductions on the shelf price of some vegetables and potatoes to as low as 20c/kg.

Potato and vegetable growers held a protest outside Marks and Spencer in Liffey Valley, Dublin, on Friday over the below-cost selling of Irish produce.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, IFA potato chair Thomas McKeown said that Marks & Spencer was selling 2kg of potatoes at 39c.

"This works out at €180/t. The costs we've had all year between the drought, the wet spring at the start and yields - yields are way back.

"In fairness, supermarkets during the year helped during the drought, but this has started up now pre-Christmas.

"There's absolutely no need for it. Veering away from potatoes, there's Brussels sprouts in there [M&S] - €3.00 for Spanish sprouts and 39c for Irish ones - that's wrong."

For more on the protest, pick up next week's Irish Farmers Journal.

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IFA protests outside M&S store over 'predatory pricing model'

Retailers warned against Christmas food discounting

Weather warning: up to 50mm of rain expected tomorrow
Met Éireann has issued two weather warnings for Saturday 15 December.

Unsettled weather is to bring rainfall of 30mm to 50mm across the country on Saturday 15 December.

Met Éireann issued a yellow weather warning for the whole country that will be in place for all 24 hours of Saturday.

It is predicting that heavy rain could see rainfalls in excess of 50mm in some mountainous areas.

Wind warning

A yellow wind warning has also been issued, as gusts of up to 110km/h are likely for Saturday afternoon.

The warning is in place for all of the country, as south to southeast winds reach 55km/h to 60km/h on Saturday morning.

The winds will be strongest in the east and will veer west to northwest into the afternoon and evening.

They will further increase to reach speeds of 55km/h to 65km/h.

Gusts associated with these winds will range from 90km/h to 110km/h.

IFA protests outside M&S store over 'predatory pricing model'
In the run-up to Christmas, the IFA issued a warning to retailers not to be lured into dropping the price of food and today held a protest outside an M&S store in west Dublin.

The IFA staged a protest outside an M&S store in west Dublin today over below-cost selling of fresh produce.

On Thursday, the IFA launched its Christmas food producers’ campaign in the hope of deterring retailers from discounting food in the run-up to the festive holiday.

IFA president Joe Healy accused M&S of gross hypocrisy by slashing the price of fresh produce below the cost of production.

He said: “It is ironic that in the M&S ‘Farming for the Future’ programme they refer to sustainability and ethical standards. It begs the question as to what is ethical and sustainable about these predatory pricing tactics?"

Lies

“I want to nail the lie that vegetable and potatoes can be sold below cost without hurting Irish growers and ultimately driving them out of business.

"Using farm produce as a tool to drive footfall undermines Irish production and the financial viability of specialist growers and producers.”

He made reference to the decline in the number of field vegetable growers, which has fallen from 377 in 1999 to 165 in 2015, a drop of 56%.

Healy said those who remained had invested heavily in their businesses to ensure there were sufficient supplies of fresh Irish produce.

Predatory

He added that a “predatory pricing model” took the value out of fresh produce, which left it “difficult to ensure sustainable farmgate prices and demeans the category in the minds of the consumer”.

Healy said: “It’s been a very tough year on producers, with significant extra costs because of the late spring and the drought conditions during the summer.

"Reducing the shelf price of some vegetables and potatoes to as low as 20c/kg sends a very misleading message to consumers regarding the costs, risks and skills associated with this sector.”

Non-Irish veg

The lack of support for Irish growers by M&S also left Healy disappointed, as he remarked on the number of vegetable lines in the store which were non-Irish.

He concluded by calling on Minister for Enterprise Heather Humphreys to address the issue of unsustainable discounting.

Read more

Retailers warned against Christmas food discounting