Farming was brought into a positive light on the environmental front this week for the first time in a long time.

However, no more than when headlines are negative, you need to look behind what is driving the figures.

One measure in isolation is really not the right way to look at anything. The farm sector has to balance weather impacts, profitability, and producing enough homegrown feed. Cutting fertiliser usage to import feed from outside the country makes no sense.

We have to be more rounded in this discussion – we can get the best figures and headlines on emissions if we have fewer and fewer farmers producing less food. Is that what we want?

On page 64 we look at how New Zealand has pulled ‘farming’ out separately and is going back to the drawing board on how to manage gases from livestock.

Feed shortage certain- so best to act now

It’s clear from the fodder grouping that met last week that some farmers already know they are going to be 20% to 30% short on winter feed.

It’s not too late, and the key message is do what you can now to maximise growth for the next two months.

The statistic that 30% to 40% of farmers need to do something to secure winter feed beyond second cut is clearly a warning signal that there could be a big problem looming for some. Act before it’s too late.

Timely advice at IGA dairy event

At the Irish Grassland Association’s dairy summer tour on Tuesday, Laois dairy farmer Bruce Thompson was very honest in his key goals for 2024. His advice was based on past experience and therefore hard earned.

His two key goals are to get more than enough silage in the yard, aiming for 120% of his requirements, and to have enough money in the bank (€200/cow) coming into winter.

Dairy farmers have learned the hard way on this and Thompson’s the advice is very timely.

Aidan Brennan will have a full report from the IGA summer tour in next week’s edition and online at