Lakeland butter in the United States this week moved to a 20% price discount on Kerrygold in a fight for market share in some stores.

While our co-ops undermine each other on price on the US shop shelves, Irish farmers suffer. We have a new boss in Conor Galvin in Ornua.

We have new management teams in Lakeland, Tirlán and Dairygold. Surely it is high time for the Ornua boss to sit everyone down and bring some common sense to the table.

It’s not just farmers who impact water

The news this week that EPA measurements of nitrates in water show little signs of improvement shouldn’t really surprise anyone. Let’s be real and clear – farmers play a part in nitrates in water, however, there are also so many factors outside of a farmer’s or anyone’s control.

The process of decomposition of organic matter in soil causes the release of nitrogen, phosphorus and other inorganic compounds. All soils have organic matter, so if no bag fertiliser or slurry was spread this process would still be ongoing.

Depending on weather, soil status, soil topography, management etc, some of these nutrients in that process that are part of a living soil, can make their way into waterways and estuaries. So while the EPA highlights farm nutrients, wastewater and forestry, there are also natural processes that impact water.

Short-term fixes on water quality in many cases won’t or might not be seen for years. We can’t expect farmers to plan and invest on a wing and prayer dependent on the weather.

Time for some straight talking and honesty with farmers or we risk building white elephants on farms all over the country.

Let’s hope the farm sector can get more than just hot air out of the strong showing and encouraging dialogue from ministers McConalogue and Ryan at the RGFI conference on Wednesday this week.

To get farmers central as everyone seems to say they want, we really need to think about new and innovative joint venture structures that will de-risk innovation and financing of anaerobic digestion.

We need to see farmers get a fair share if they provide the feedstocks – not just a cash crop. We also need to see the environmental benefits accrue to farmers and their co-ops.

Why should a US cow have a $200 per cow per year green credit if her slurry is used in the process, while the Irish cow gets nothing?

CAP payments

We have long asked for the numbers to see the actual change in euro between counties as a result of the policy change to further flattening of farm payments or ‘convergence’ in EU speak.

While not the full picture we get a good taste of the numbers this week, as Darren Carty reports.

Of course the fact remains that within counties there are winners and losers also.

Nevertheless, the definite shift west will continue if further flattening of the BISS continues in the next CAP policy.