• Agreement's been reached between Meat Industry Ireland representatives and Farm Organisations in the beef dispute.


    In a statement, the Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed says the talks have ended this afternoon.


    They've agreed on a two strand agreement for the reform of the Irish Beef Sector.


    The deal involves a number of interventions, to provide immediate benefit for beef producers, as well as a range of strategic steps to address structural imbalances in the sector.


    The Minister says a number of actions in the area of market transparency, beef promotion and strengthening the position of the farmer in the supply chain were agreed upon.


    The agreement includes...


    An increase of 66% in the current in-spec bonus for steers and heifers from 12c/kg to 20c/kg;


    The introduction of a new bonus of 8c/kg for steers and heifers aged between 30 to 36 months,  which meet all non-age related existing in-spec criteria, and which up to now have not received any bonus;


    The introduction of a number of new bonuses and reforms.


    An independent Beef Market taskforce will also be established.


    The agreement will come into effect once blockades end outside all meat factories.


    Average family farm incomes fell by 21% last year -according to the Teagasc National Farm Survey.

    It shows that farmers across the board struggled to cope with the difficulties presented by severe weather conditions in 2018.

    The average farm family income dropped by 21% to €23,483, but as low as €8,000 on suckler farms.

    A long winter, followed by an extremely dry Summer, seriously affected grass growth in 2018.

    As a result, there was a substantial increase in the volume of purchased feed and fodder needed on grassland farmers, with average feed expenditure up 34% .

    Dairy farms incurred the largest income fall last year, with a 31% drop in incomes to an average of just over €61,000 - down from almost €89,000 the previous year.

    Sheep farmers also saw an income reduction last year, with higher than normal levels of feed and fertiliser use - average sheep farm income fell by 21% to €13,769.

    The results expose the fragility of farm incomes, and should serve as a wake-up call at Government and EU level, according to the IFA President Joe Healy .

  • The Department of Agriculture will have to find a way to ensure that the cost of electronic tagging of all sheep is not borne by sheep farmers.

    That’s according to the IFA, which is making a submission on the matter to the Minister for Agriculture, following a request by Minister Michael Creed.

    The IFA National Sheep Committee met recently  and agreed the main aspects of the submission to the Minister.

    Their submission will focus on the case that farmers cannot be expected to carry the costs of EID tagging when the main benefits will be going to the factories, the marts, the Department and the tag suppliers.

    The IFA claims the compulsory electronic tagging will cost Irish sheep farmers €2 million per year.

    They also claim it’s unacceptable that the Minister announces his move without consultation.

    In addition, the IFA submission will state that it is not practical at farm level to impose electronic tagging from this October, as the timing is all wrong in terms of the lamb trade and especially the store lamb trade.

    The association also claims there is no benefit in terms of traceability by using electronic tagging in lambs that move from the farm of origin directly to slaughter.

  • Farmers are facing a fodder crisis and a financial crisis around the country.

    That's the warning from the IFA as it welcomes a Government scheme to encourage farmers to plant fast growing fodder as a catch crop - following the damage caused by the drought.

    IFA President Joe Healy says this year's weather extremes of snow and heat have left farmers in a dire position with crops and livestock.


  • Farmers are calling for urgent action from the Government to save the country's beef trade.

    The IFA is lobbying TDs and Senators in Dublin today on the beef crisis.

    They say they're finding it almost impossible to sell their stock because of poor prices, the weakness of sterling and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

    IFA representatives from every county will attend, seeking urgent action by the Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.

  • Farming groups met with representatives of the GLAS division of the Department of Agriculture yesterday, in an effort to break the logjam that has developed where a substantial number of GLAS commonage farmers still remained to be paid their final 15% instalment for 2017.

    Currently around 9,000 commonage farmers are in GLAS on up to 4,000 commonages. So far, however, just 1,490 plans, representing 40%, have been finalised, meaning that up to 6,000 farmers are still awaiting payment worth around €4m.

    Among the groups which met with Department officials was the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association.

    Their spokesperson Colm O’Donnell called on all DAFM approved Commonage Advisors to complete outstanding plans immediately, particularly to those contracted in block by the Department of Agriculture to Teagasc, who in turn sub-contracted to work to Farm Relief Services. He says it is totally unacceptable if many of the planners who commenced the interim plans last year are no longer engaged in GLAS plans, and Teagasc must make the necessary service available so that their clients are not left high and dry.

  • The Minister for Agriculture is being accused of sitting back and watching from the side-lines as Ireland's beef farmers sink to their knees.

    Fianna Fail's spokesperson on Agriculture says the Government can't expect farmers to continue carrying losses as beef prices continue to fall.

    Charlie McConalogue says Minister Creed must roll up his sleeves and tackle the frustration that has led farmers to the picket lines all this week.

    The IFA says a 'sweet-heart' deal between the EU and President Trump is another example of beef farmers being sacrificed for other sectors.

    The association's Livestock Chairman Angus Woods says beef imports are already seriously undermining EU and Irish beef prices and the new deal will further escalate the crisis.

  • Food prices have not kept up with inflation, according to the President of the IFA, Galway based farmer Joe Healy.

    A new UK study published today is warning that in the wake of the country’s recent heatwave pressure on crop production has increased and it could mean a rise of 5 percent in the price of meat, dairy and vegetable products in supermarkets.

    Mr Healy told Midwest News that extreme weather conditions here over the past number of months will also put a strain on food supply.

     He says in the 1960s a family on average spent 30 percent of their salary on food, that has now reduced to 15 percent on average and he attributes the reduction on CAP.

  • IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods has accused the cattle factories of crippling cattle farmers financially with the cutting of beef prices. He claims the latest drive by the meat plants to cut prices below a base price of €3.80/kg will do serious financial damage at farm level.

    He says cattle in the UK had increased by 4p/kg per week for the last 3 weeks and he contrasted this with prices cuts from the Irish factories.

    He told Midwest News today that the factory pull on beef prices is inflicting massive damage on the weanling and store cattle trade in the marts across the country and undermining the suckler cow herd.

    The IFA National Livestock leader said this year farmers have had to endure an extremely long and severe winter/spring period with massive meal bills. On top of this the drought involved farmers having to feed meals on grass at very significant additional expense and all of these bills are still there to be paid.

  • Two farming organisations - the IFA and the INHFA - are today calling on farmers to lift the pickets at factory gates, and give a chance to the deal hammered out over the weekend.

    Up to 300 farmers attended a rally outside Dawn Meats in Ballyhaunis last night, where it was generally agreed that the beef deal brokered over the weekend would deliver extra bonuses and see the establishment of a beef market taskforce involving all stakeholders.

    However, farmers are still holding out for a higher base price for their cattle, and are vowing to continue to protest on this issue.


    Colm O'Donnell,President of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association believes the beef agreement has the potential to deliver for beef farmers, but he claims farmers should end their protests now, or face losing what they've achieved over the past number of weeks.


    The Galway-based  IFA President Joe Healy is also urging farmers to end the blockades and give the deal hammered out at the weekend a chance.



  • The Irish Farmers' Association has warned that more needs to be done to tackle illegal dumping in the countryside.

    It says over the Christmas season there's a significant increase in littering, as people dump cans, bottles, used wrapping paper and even the leftovers of Christmas dinners.

    The IFA is calling on local authorities to develop a post-Christmas plan that would deter people from dumping rubbish.

    IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney wants to see more sanction in place for serial dumpers, and changes to legislation so that farmers are no longer held legally responsible for reckless dumping by others....

  • Farmers from across the country are taking part in an IFA protest today outside the Department of Health in Dublin, in relation to the Fair Deal nursing home scheme.

    The IFA is calling on the Government to deliver on its commitment to introduce a three-year cap on productive assets for farmers.

    At present under the Fair Deal scheme, a person pays 80% of their total income, such as a pension to help fund their care, and on top of this, they commit 75% of the value of their assets as a yearly contribution.

    In the case of the family home, the contribution is capped at 3 years, or 22.5% of the value of the home.

    However, farmers and business person's other assets, such as land, are hit with a 7.5% charge every year, indefinitely.

    IFA President Joe Healy says nursing home fees are placing a huge financial burden on farms, and the Government passed a motion last year agreeing to a three year cap, as farm assets are income-generating assets that pass on to the next generation.

    Mr Healy says the changes need to be introduced without delay, and retrospectively applied to last July, when the commitment was given.

  • IFA President Joe Healy said the change in carbon emissions attributed to agriculture today was not unexpected, due to the increased market demand coinciding with the ending of the milk quota regime in 2015, which had been in place since 1984.
    He said, "Ireland is the most carbon efficient producer of milk in the European Union and our beef farmers are in the top five.

    Mr Healy says Ireland has a natural advantage in food production due to our grass-based production system. At present no credit is given in the climate data to the contribution that Ireland’s permanent pasture and hedgerows make to carbon sequestration. This is not giving a fair picture of the overall positive contribution of agriculture,” he says.

    He claims Irish farmers have been frustrated for years due to milk quotas and that we need to evaluate the increased emissions in the context of the economic and social sustainability of rural Ireland.
    Teagasc has set out a climate roadmap with 27 measures that can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These include the delivery of the huge potential for the production of farm-scale renewable energy and the Government needs to incentivise this,” he says.

    Joe Healy concluded by restating his call on An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar to demonstrate the necessary climate leadership required by coordinating the coming together of the necessary government departments and state agencies to deliver the full climate abatement potential of the Teagasc climate report.

  • The IFA claims a new trade deal between the US and the EU is another huge blow to Irish farming.


    Yesterday, President Donald Trump signed an agreement that will allow the States to export a lot more beef to Europe.


    It follows the Mercosur deal, which would give South America much more access to the market also.


    Both agreements have to be approved by the European Parliament - but IFA President Joe Healy is hitting out.


    “We export 90% of the meat we produce in Ireland, 95% of that goes either into the U.K or Europe. So, any deal that means more meat coming into Europe is bad for Ireland,” said Mr Healy.

  • Sheep farmers are facing additional costs of almost €2 million euro per year, as a result of the decision to impose compulsory electronic tagging on all sheep from the 1st October next.

    The Agriculture Minister Michael Creed announced the move last week, but farming organisations are unhappy with the level of consultation with them ahead of announcing the decision, and the costs involved for the 35,000 sheep farmers across the country.

    The IFA National Sheep Committee delegation, led by Galway-based IFA President Joe Healy, met with Minister Creed and his officials yesterday to outline their concerns in relation the electronic tagging.

    Séan Dennehy is the IFA National Sheep Chairman  - he says the sheep committee will meet tomorrow and will then make a submission to the Minister, at his request.

    Speaking to Midwest News, Mr Dennehy said the additional cost burden on farmers is their biggest concern…

  • IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has said the first batch of 130 appeals of the ANC Review has been sent to the Independent Panel. 

    The Panel was set up to deal with areas that were either taken out or those trying to get in for the first time.  1,500 individual appeals have been lodged.

     Speaking following a meeting with the Department of Agriculture in Portlaoise, IFA is urging farmers who have not yet appealed to do so immediately as the closing date is next Monday, Apr 8th. He also called on the Department to make contact with all appellants and to send them the information relevant to their townland.

     IFA is advising all farmers, including the 4,000 who qualify for the first time, as well as those who lost out, to tick the ANC box on the 2019 BPS online application form.

     The ANC scheme supports nearly 100,000 farmers, and is worth €250m in 2019 following the Budget increase last October.

  • The Irish Farmers Association President says he's 'hopeful' fresh talks aimed at resolving the beef dispute will end the crisis.

    Discussions are expected to resume on Monday, three weeks after the orginals talks broke down.

    Farmers are calling on factories to give them a better price for their animals.

    However, Meat Industry Ireland says the price they get represents the average in a tough EU market.

    IFA President, Joe Healy, says it's important a resolution is found.

  • IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has welcomed a recent increase in Farm Assist payments, and is reminding farmers that the IFA offers an online calculator to help determine if they qualify for Farm Assist and what level of payment they could expect.

     Farm Assist is a means tested income support scheme available to farm families when their income falls below a certain threshold. Farm Assist acts as an income supplement providing a top-up to bring incomes in line with social protection thresholds.

     From March 21st, the maximum weekly rate of Farm Assist payments increased by €5 to €198 as part of increases to social protection payments announced in Budget 2018.

    The IFA Farm Assist Calculator is available in the Farm Finance Section of the IFA Website at https://www.ifa.ie/farm-finance/farm-assist-calculator/

  • IFA President Joe Healy insists that there is mounting farmer anger that the Environment Minister Richard Bruton would support a call for teenagers to consume less meat and dairy product and he has again called for the withdrawal of a new on line Green Schools pack produced by An Taisce - promoting climate change advice .The school pack talks about reducing the consumption of meat and dairy in our diets. Farmers claim it promotes veganism.

     However, speaking to Midwest News yesterday Minister Bruton was clear that he is not for turning on the provision of the Green Schools packs for school

    He was adamant that censorship is not the answer, saying  young people would not appreciate not being able to discuss what they eat and its impact on the environment.

    Minister Bruton stated that when he was young there was always one day in the week that meat was off the menu and that was replaced by fish.

    Speaking about the new Green School pack today Joe Healy says its content is not consistent with the dietary advice from the Department of Health. It is clear that many parents already find it challenging to ensure that their children eat a balanced diet.

    He concludes that the pack must be withdrawn or amended. 

  • The beef talks in Backweston, county Kildare adjourned after more than 12 hours of discussions between the various parties in the early hours of this morning.

    The independent Chairman Michael Dowling is to circulate a document based on the proposals that were put forward.

    The talks began yesterday at 2pm and took place at the Department of Agriculture's campus. The Beef Plan Movement, IFA, ICMSA, ICSA, INHFA and Macra were all at the meeting, plus Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and officials from the Department of Agriculture.

    IFA President Joe Healy said some progress had been made on market transparency and the introduction of a price index.

    There is also a commitment to look at the market specifications that impact on price that exist in the grid.

    It is expected that the talks will re-convene on Thursday or Monday next.