This week, Phelim O’Neill writes about an interview he had with Niamh Lenehan, the relatively new CEO of the Agri-Food Regulator. The independent, statutory, regulatory office was formally established with the passing of the agriculture and food supply chain bill.

Its two primary functions are reporting on markets and enforcing regulations on those operating in the agrifood supply chain. Farmers often feel frustrated that a margin way above what they can achieve is made once they produce the raw material.

This frustration has been building for years. Farmers are impatient and wanted answers years ago. We have to be fair to Niamh – the office and the CEO need time to get their ducks in a row.

IFA President Francie Gorman said this week if additional regulation is needed to give her more powers, then he would have no problem calling for that.

Phelim O’Neill suggests if the ambition and willingness on both sides (the regulator and the industry) is present, we could see more transparency for farmers.

New Dutch ambassador

The fact that the Netherlands has appointed Maaike Van Koldam as ambassador with responsibility for food and farming in Ireland speaks volumes about the transition in EU policy.

The Dutch are looking for food producing partners here in Ireland. It also highlights the Brexit effect. Previously, Ireland and food was managed from the Netherlands embassy in London.

In addition, the Netherlands has recently established an honorary consul office in Cork to cover the south of Ireland.

The Dutch see the potential for renewables and offshore wind in Ireland and want to invest here, so having someone on the ground is a key step.

Ireland has over 100 consuls around the world. Primarily they are set up to assist citizens living abroad, but also develop and assist in the development of trade and economic relations.

At the moment, there is no government formed in the Netherlands, some four months after elections. Four parties are in talks, but as yet there is no conclusion. It took over 300 days to form the previous government that collapsed eight months ago.

The threat to live calf exports, given the increased environmental restrictions in the Netherlands, could have an impact on Irish farms. While the Dutch really like Irish calves it is likely new rules on emissions will reduce the Dutch need for calves.