The introduction for Alltech’s Aidan Connolly at the company’s One Ideas Forum in Co Meath on Tuesday contained a surprise announcement: the chief innovation officer is leaving the firm, but will continue to collaborate as a consultant.
Connolly will certainly leave a gap in a company built precisely on innovation – originally in feed additives and most recently through Connolly’s drive to make Alltech the centre of a galaxy of ag-tech startups.
Its accelerator programme will ensure a network of collaborations in a future where data will be worth more than grain or milk, and a foot in the door when a good acquisition opportunity arises.
Speaking of which, Alltech boss Mark Lyons lifted a corner of the veil on the acquisition of Keenan two years ago. When he heard the Carlow diet feeder manufacturer “wasn’t going to be a company by Monday”, Mark said his father, the late Pearse Lyons, “jumped on the opportunity and made a couple of phone calls” – sealing the deal by that fateful Monday.
Aidan Connolly is stepping down from Alltech.
Electric fence for swine patrol
French farmers and hunters licensed by their government are currently building an electric fence across the forest blanketing the border with Belgium after a case of African swine fever (ASF) was detected in a wild boar there.
The local farmer and hunter associations have also installed repellent material where roads interrupt the fence. The disease has spread from eastern Europe in the last five years and poses a major threat to pig farms and pigmeat exports.
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis addressed the Council of EU agriculture ministers on Monday to impress on them the urgency of the situation.
“The fight is far from over,” he said after the meeting, insisting that “jumps” in the spread of the disease were caused by human activity.
“Mobilisation from public authorities but also farmers, hunters, travellers, truck drivers and so on must remain very high.”
Cabinet shuffling to Leo’s beat
Last week, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar reshuffled some of his Cabinet following the resignation of Denis Naughten. I see he was not the only one who had to make some changes.
At a Teagasc agri-tourism conference, former Minister for the Environment Naughten had been due to deliver a speech but was swiftly replaced by newly promoted Minister for the Gaeltacht and the islands Sean Kyne. However, Deputy Naughten still made an appearance in the crowd. With his name spelt incorrectly in the booklet, it might have been for the best.
Irish beef too expensive for the US
A large US-based beef buyer present at the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef in Ireland last week confirmed what markets have made abundantly clear: Irish beef is too expensive for Americans.
While “everyone was talking to Irish suppliers one year ago”, that window quickly closed when cheaper sourcing opportunities arose – despite our product’s good reputation.
It’s certainly nothing to do with food safety: the same buyer confessed that – unlike here – there is no full traceability in the US.
Processors can find out the finishing farm where their beef comes from, but not where each animal was born or raised before that, he said.
Only high-end ranges can promise this – at a price premium.
Farm income from Japanese Knotweed?
I see Kerry Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill is calling for a farm scheme to train and pay farmers to deal with Japanese knotweed. While this would boost troop numbers in the war on the invasive species, such a scheme would also provide additional income.
Hard to argue with that, especially when some local authorities seem to deal with the destructive knotweed solely by erecting a “do not cut” sign, then leaving it there for any number of months.
From Macra president to CEO
Seán Finan, the former Macra na Feirme president, has been appointed CEO of the Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA), I heard.
The part-time farmer, from Ballinlough, Castlerea, Co Roscommon, will remain on in the voluntary post of vice-president of the European Council of Young Farmers, CEJA.
IrBEA’s role is to promote the bioenergy industry and to develop the sector. It is a self-governing association of voluntary members.
I see a former news editor of this parish has landed a new role at Glanbia Ireland. Pat O’Keeffe has been appointed corporate affairs director with the company, which combines ingredients, agribusiness and consumer. Glanbia Ireland was formed in 2017 and is a joint venture between Glanbia Co-op and the plc. He will oversee communications to farmers and all other external Glanbia Ireland stakeholders. He was previously head of farmer relations at Glanbia.
Free farm movement – €10 to join
An underground beef plan movement, spawned on the messaging service WhatsApp, has grown from 300 members to over 1,200 in just a short matter of weeks.
Organisers say the group is free to join, but will ask for a €10 subscription fee to realise their 86-point plan – designed by farmers – to save the beef industry. The infamous phrase springs to mind: “Is there anything to be said for another mass?” Is this another farm organisation?