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Farmers advised to price around for new TAMS



Minister Simon Coveney

FARMERS applying for the new TAMS II schemes announced last week by Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, have been advised to price around when it comes to getting materials, and hiring contractors for the job.

Galway IFA Livestock Committee Chairman, Michael Flynn, told the Farming Tribune that many farmers had been ‘burnt’ when the old scheme ended in 2008, with top prices having to be paid to contractors and suppliers as the deadline for grant payments approached.

“The latest announcement from Minister Coveney opens up the scheme to all farmers and that is to be warmly welcomed. But I would strongly advise all applicants to rigorously price around for the best value from contractors and suppliers,” said Michael Flynn.

Pat Murphy, Galway IFA Chairman, said that while the new scheme would operate on a tranche application basis, the fact that it would be opened from now until 2020, afforded farmers the chance to plan properly for any work they intended to carry out.

“This is not only good news for farmers but also for the rural economy in general. All this money will circulate back into the local economy and will be a considerable boost for farmers and the construction industry,” said Pat Murphy.

Last week, Minister Coveney announced that an ‘indicative allocation’ of some €175m was being made available under the terms of these two schemes over the full RDP (rural development programme) period.

The schemes, said the Minister, were open to all farmers who meet the general eligibility criteria, offering a standard rate of aid of 40% on investments up to a ceiling of €80,000 [total grant aid of €32,000].

He said that under Animal Welfare, Safety and Storage Scheme, some of the most important areas of investment now available included animal housing, calving pens, manure pits, mass concrete tanks, circular slurry stores and circulation pipes to allow for agitation of slurry, as well as a range of safety elements.

“Following on from the success of the Farm Safety Scheme which saw applications from over 6,000 farmers, I am particularly pleased to be able to re-launch the safety component of this new scheme,” he said.

Agricultural Consultant Vincent Costello, said that the latest grant announcement was very good news for farmers thinking of expansion and especially those who would be in a tight situation as regards slurry storage facilities.

“We are advising farmers to assess their individual situations, to talk to their planners and then come up with a plan for what they want to do. A 40% grant allocation can ‘take the sting’ out of the cost of those jobs,” said Vincent Costello.

All applications must be made on-line (available now), either by the farmer or by an authorised adviser. The first tranche of applications will run for three months, closing towards the end of October.


Farmers losing out on beef grading machines



Deputy Denis Naughten

Beef farmers could be losing up to €168 per head due to the lack of accuracy on mechanical beef grading machines in meat plants across the country.

That’s according to local Deputy Denis Naughten, on foot of figures he obtained on the accuracy of these beef grading machines.

The figures show that Department inspectors have found machines to be out by a factor of at least 10% on 119 occasions over the last 18 months

Deputy Naughten pointed out that the legal tolerance limit set for beef grading machines currently in use in meat plants is a mere 60% accuracy.

Even though the Department inspectors found them to be out by at least 10% on 119 occasions, on only eight occasions was mechanical grading suspended because the machines had to be getting the grades wrong on four out of every ten cattle.

“The mechanical grading machines in use in beef plants across the country today were first trialled and tested 20 years ago by Teagasc,” said the Roscommon/Galway TD.

“At that time google was just invented and people needed an encyclopaedia if we wanted to look something up.

“Technology has changed a lot in 20 years and we now need new hi-tech beef grading machines and new modern rules to operate them so they can accurately reflect the actual grade of the animal. These new rules then need to be properly enforced by Departmental officials to ensure that farmers will not be exploited,” he added.

See full story in this week’s Farming Tribune. The Connacht Tribune is on sale now, or you can get our digital edition here.

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Farmers urged to take part in Brexit seminar



Farmers urged to take part in Brexit seminar

GALWAY farmers and IFA members have been asked to consider attending next Monday’s special seminar on the Brexit issue to be held in Goffs, Kill, Co. Kildare.

A number of high profile speakers will address the seminar including EU Agricultural Commissioner, Phil Hogan; the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed; IFA President Joe Healy as well as senior representatives from the Irish meat industry.

The conference – that runs from 9am to 4pm – is open to all IFA members, although booking is essential in order for the organisers to ‘get a handle’ on the numbers attending. An attendance of about 600 farmers is expected.

Galway-Mayo IFA Regional Officer, Roy O’Brien, told the Farming Tribune that Brexit was the single biggest issue facing the agricultural industry in Ireland over the coming months and years.

“We are looking at a UK market which takes a large percentage of our agricultural produce – what we desperately need is for this market outlet to stay open to us without any tariffs being imposed.

“Ireland does have a special relationship with the UK but we really need to press this issue home with our own political representatives, the EU and Britain as well.

“We’ve all seen over recent months the impact that currency fluctuations alone can have on markets, so the last thing we need is any form of tariff being applied to our exports to Britain,” said Roy O’Brien.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Celebrating half a century of co-operative spirit



Attending the celebrations of the opening of Kilconnell co-operative (now part of Arrabawn) fifty years ago

The 50th anniversary of a game-changing moment for the dairy industry in the county – which saw the development of co-operative milk processing facilities in Kilconnell – was marked with a gathering of founding members and others associated with the plant and the former Midwest Farmers Co-op last week.

Held in Kilconnell Hall, Friday night’s event was one of deep nostalgia as the establishment of the plant in Kilconnell was recalled but also one with a strong sense of positivity for the future as the plant’s as one of Ireland’s finest was equally celebrated.

The journey commenced over 50 years ago with the decision to develop a central creamery in Kilconnell and three separating stations in Athenry, Athlone and Clonberne, which were to be operated by Kilinaleck Co-op.

The Co Cavan co-op had won the tender to develop the facilities but such was the transformative effect it would have on dairying in East Galway that supply would quickly outgrow the Cavan co-op’s capacity and lead ultimately to the establishment of Midwest Farmers Co-op.

According to Brendan Lynskey, a retired dairy farmer synonymous with Kilconnell and Midwest Farmers Co-Op, the existence of a state-of-the-art facility today at the East Galway plant is testament to the foresight and hard work 50 years ago and more of those involved in the then fledgling dairying community.

“As one farmer put it to me all those years ago, not long after the co-op was up and running, we would never be short of a pound after this. It was a different time. A big dairy herd back then was 30 cows and some people were happy to milk five or six cows and leave the can out on the side of the road for collection.

“The start at Kilconnell was a great time and I worked there for a number of years.  There was an awful lot of farmer involvement to get that up and running and the key moment probably was a meeting in Athenry at which it was decided that Kilconell would be the central location and that we would have three separation stations.

“The projected cost of the creamery at the time was €120,000 for Kilconnell and €60,000 to install the additional equipment. That might not do much today but it was an awful lot of money back then and we were up and running in ’66.  The building of it was mostly manual work. I don’t think there was any ready-mix at the time, it was all done manually. There was very heavy concrete work because there was an old time churn with a big base so it needed a lot of concrete,” he recalled.

But it wasn’t long, he continued, before Kilinaleck Co-op would no longer have the capacity to handle growth at Kilconnell.

For more of the history and background of the co-op see this week’s Tribune here

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