Looking forward to a prosperous 2014

Agriland does not like odd numbers – so on that basis alone, let’s wish a cheerful goodbye to 2013 and ring in the year ahead on an upbeat note.

In truth, 2014, has the potential to be a tremendously positive 12 months for agriculture in Ireland.

Dairy farmers are already benefitting from strong milk prices. And there is every expectation of this trend being maintained, for the first few months of the New Year at least.

The drop in beef prices in the run up to Christmas was extremely disappointing. However, the GB/Northern Ireland price differential report, published just over a week ago by the Livestock and Meat Commission , gives hope that the redmeat sector can proactively address many of the issues that contribute to the weak selling position of local meat companies in Britain and on other export markets. And, of course, the detail of the report should find resonance with meat businesses throughout the island of Ireland.

The weather, of course, will always remain the key factor that no one can predict with any degree of certainty.   The year just ending was one of extremes in this regard. The image of sheep producers pulling dead lambs and ewes out of snow drifts at the end of March will live long in the memory. The entire farming industry subsequently endured the coldest Spring in well over a century, which was followed by the heat wave that was June and July.

The mild autumn weather allowed cereal growers to establish winter crops in almost perfect conditions. We walked fields of both winter wheat and barley in the weeks leading up to Christmas and was mightily impressed with what we saw. But, of course, we have all been here before: crops that overwintered well in the past did not get the chance to fulfil their true yield potential because of the vagaries in the weather that so characterise the climate in this part of the world.

But, in truth, extremes of weather have played far too big a role in the affairs of local farmers of late. So let’s hope that the climate take on the role of a good referee in 2014 – it won’t be getting a mention from the most match pundits.

A Happy New Year to all our readers from the AgriLand team.

Yours in farming and here’s to 2014 x

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