Teagasc issues forest fire warning for Easter holiday
Teagasc has issued a high fire risk (orange) warning for areas where fine fuels such as grass are present in proximity to forests over the coming Easter holiday.

The agricultural training and education body says that current extended high pressure-dominated weather and effective drought patterns have contributed to the risk.

This is the fifth forest fire warning of 2017.

The warning was introduced on Monday 10 April and is predicted to remain in place until 18 April.

Teagasc has said “the highest degree of vigilance” is needed by forest owners and managers during this period.

Recent weeks have seen significant fire activity, with some allegations thrown about of people setting fire to vegetation illegally.

Advice to forest owners

Teagasc has said that forest owners and managers looking to prepare for outbreaks of fire should review fire lines, fire plans and fire suppression equipment and other relevant contingencies such as insurance, helicopter contracts, etc.

It also suggests assessing your property with regard to fire risk, developing a fire plan for all forests, and having fire-fighting tools such as beaters and knapsack sprayers to hand and ready to use. For more tips from Teagasc on this issue, click here.

Greater forestry area

As our forestry editor Donal Magner previously reported, Irish forests are becoming more vulnerable to damage by a wide range of agencies and this has become more noticeable, especially since the increase in private planting.

Magner writes that, at its simplest level, we now have a greater area of forest to protect. The Irish forest estate – public and private – has doubled in the past 35 years, while the private estate alone has more than trebled over the past 25 years, from 121,000ha to 367,000ha.

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Wild fires roar across Ireland during sunny weekend

This week in photos: New Ross and Newport Marts
Our top farming photos from the last week include harvesting and hay-making.

Front page photo: Bales in Co Kildare

Hundreds of bales on the Kelly family farm in Athy, Co Kildare. Conor Kelly has been tasked with moving these bales. The family also grows gluten-free oats, rapeseed and wheat. \ Claire-Jeanne Nash

Haymaking in Co Cavan

Charlie Reburn and Peter McGorry in Corraneary, Co Cavan, raking and baling hay for JMC agri contractors. \ Philip Doyle

My Farming Week in Co Kilkenny

Brothers Tom and Jim Murphy in Fiddown, Inistioge, Co Kilkenny. The brothers are currently switching the farm from beef to dairy and hope to begin milking in 2019.

Winter barley harvesting in Co Kildare

Park Avenue Farm in Boley, Co Kildare, is a family run farm and grain stores. The Kellys run a tillage, sheep and beef enterprise. Michael and his three brothers, Jerry, John and Jimmy, work together on the farm. Michael’s son and daughter, David and Clodagh, are currently studying ag Science in UCD. \ Philip Doyle

Grubbing beet in Co Wexford

Ciaran Lancaster grubbing beet in Ballybeg, Fernes, Co Wexford. He is contracting for tillage and beef farmer Pat Rourke. Ciaran explains that beet holds up well in drought, needing little water. \ Philip Doyle

Harvesting in Co Carlow

Joe Walsh harvesting winter barley in Ballybar, Co Carlow. He is harvesting a Bazooka six-row highbred with a moisture content of 15.5%, which was sown in the last week of October 2017. \ Philip Doyle

Newport Mart

Liam Philips from Killoscully, Jimmy Kennedy from Silvermines and Francis Ryan from Birdhill, at the sheep sale in Newport Mart, Co Tipperary. \ Mike Hoare

PJ Fogarty, Ruth Minihan and Baden Powell, all form Newport, and Liam Shanahan form Broadford, Co Clare, at Newport Mart. \ Mike Hoare

John and Dolores deCourcy from Limerick at Newport Mart. \ Mike Hoare

Liam Shanahan from Kilbane, Co Clare with Jack and Mary Berkery from Rearcross at Newport Mart. \ Mike Hoare

New Ross Mart

Cattle in the ring at Monday's sale in New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

Kevin Barry, Ann Furlong and Michael Cody at New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

Anthony Ryan and Richard Kirwan from Ramsgrange, Co Wexford at New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

Eyes on the ring at the weekly sale at New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

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This week in photos: Loughrea Mart and winter barley harvesting

Around the country in pictures

This week in photos: BEEF 2018 and wholecrop harvest

Tests for residues and illegal medicines shows 99.7% compliance
The Department of Agriculture released the results of testing carried out under the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) in 2017 on Sunday.

The overall rate of compliance with the NRCP stands at 99.7%. The NRCP covers testing for banned substances, approved veterinary medicines, pesticides and environmental contaminants.

18,513 samples were tested in 2017, taken across all 8 food producing species (bovine, ovine, porcine, equine, poultry, farmed game, wild game and aquaculture) as well as milk, eggs and honey. Most samples are taken in accordance with criteria designed to target animals or products that are more likely to contain illegal residues.

Risk

The Department said that this high level of compliance has been consistent going back to 2013.

Just 51 samples were non-compliant and of these the majority related to residues of authorised medicines. Risk evaluations by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland were carried out in response to each result and it was found that there was no unacceptable food safety risk to consumers. In these circumstances, none required a recall of products from the market. In all cases where positive results were found, a follow up investigation takes place at the farm of origin. Results from the extensive testing under the NRCP in 2017 indicated the absence of illegal administration of banned growth promoting hormones and other banned substances to food-producing animals in Ireland.

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Illegal slaughterhouse posed 'danger to public health'