UK farmers promised direct payments during transition
The UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, spoke at the Oxford Farming Conference on Thursday morning.

Direct payments to UK farmers will be maintained during a Brexit transition period, DEFRA secretary Michael Gove told the Oxford Farming Conference in a keynote speech this morning. This goes further than previous promises that the value of the farm subsidies budget coming from the EU would be matched to the end of the current UK Parliament in 2022.

The UK will formally leave the EU in March of 2019 but Westminster anticipates that an implementation or transition period will be agreed with the EU lasting for around another two years.

“We have guaranteed that the amount we allocate to farming support - in cash terms - will be protected throughout and beyond this period right up until the end of this Parliament in 2022,” Gove said. “We will pay the 2019 BPS scheme on the same basis as we do now. After the implementation period, this transitional payment could be paid to the recipient without the need to comply with all the onerous existing cross-compliance rules and procedures.”

Public goods

After that transition, he said the UK government will replace BPS with a system of public money for public goods. Gove called on farmers to get involved with developing this system.

“The ways in which we provide financial support to farmers have been far too bureaucratic – not helped by the ludicrous rules and red tape of the CAP that Defra must try to enforce,” he said “Related to the whole question of how we allocate support, we need to change our approach to inspection.We inspect too often, too ineffectively and in far too many cases for the wrong things.”

Change

Gove’s plan is to reduce the number of farm inspections and move them to a more risk based approach. He outlined four areas in which he wants to drive change in agriculture:

1. Develop a coherent policy on food - integrating the needs of agriculture businesses, other enterprises, consumers, public health and the environment

2. Give farmers the tools to adapt to the future

3. Develop a new method of providing financial support for farmers which moves away from subsidies for inefficiency to public money for public goods

4. Build natural capital thinking into the UK’s approach towards land use and management

“I recognise the heart of almost all farming businesses is food production,” he said. “But I believe it’s critical as we think of food production and the role of farming in the future that we develop policy which looks at the food-chain as a whole, from farm to fork, and we also recognise the economic, health and environmental forces shaping the future of food.”

Exports

Food and Drink is the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector and one of its fastest growing with an increase of 8% in exports to the EU and 10% in exports outside the EU in the first three quarters of last year.

Gove said that the UK should develop a new food labelling system. This would go beyond Red Tractor to create a single, scaled measure of how a farmer performs against a “sensible basket of indicators, taking into account such things as soil health, control of pollution, contribute to water quality as well as animal welfare.”

Read more

Farmers bound by CAP beyond Brexit

UK to get most of EU lamb imports

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

Read more

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.

Read more

Illegal slaughterhouse posed 'danger to public health'