Review of the year: US beef market, TLT, suckler decline and CAP difficulties

November started of with a week-long Bord Bia-led Irish agriculture trade visit to the Gulf States. There was more positive developments with news that agri-business Kerry Group‘s hub in Naas already employe 300 people.

Also this month the American dream is still alive and kicking as the US market opens for Irish beef and European beef. It was also announced in November that a new dairy cow production index is set for autumn 2014.

Opposition began to surface on EirGrid’s plans to build pylons across the rural landscape in its big to upgrade the electricity transmission network. 

A deficit in the level of training for young farmers was also noted by the Irish Farm Managers Association. Speaking to AgriLand at the time, secretary of the IFMA, John Fitzgerald observed: “We’re not training the primary industry, farmers are soon going to struggle to find staff.” The topic of share farming was also discussed at its think-in.

Concern of the growth of ILT in the poultry industry was also noted. Speaking to AgriLand at the time, Vincent Carton, managing director of the Meath-based Carton Brothers’ poultry group, expressed disappointment at the Department of Agriculture’s inability to prevent the cross-border importation of poultry litter from Northern Ireland. This followed the recent series of Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT) outbreaks in Antrim.

Great news in November was that the 16th Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships will take place in Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland from17 May to 25 May 2014.

A high uptake level of TAMS dairy equipment scheme was also noted, a positive development on the dairy side of the industry.

A key conference this month was by Nuffield Ireland,  an independent organisation that promotes excellence by developing and supporting people with leadership potential. All this to positively influence Irish agriculture. Nuffield has championed more than 50 Irish scholars, agriculture ambassadors of Ireland, who have travelled the world learning and networking. Features on its autumn think-in are available here 

The digital revolution of Irish agriculture was noted in November and more positive innovative news was that the Department of Agriculture’s AIMS got a new provider, Herdwatch.

Meanwhile, the greening of direct payment, on-the-farm outline by EU agri expert Alan Mathews at Teagasc’s annual Agri-Environment Conference in Tullamore. The greening measures, to be introduced as part of reformed Common Agriculture Policy added to cross compliance, will form the baseline for any new agri-environment measures and significant work is required to transform the proposed Rural Development Programme framework into schemes suitable for Irish farming and the environment, he noted.

November also saw the saga of the TLT International receivership in the headlines. This development is still ongoing. some 30 marts are still owned a substantial amount of money. All TLT features are available here.

The first Irish retailer-farmer development programme was launched this month, the SuperValu Sustainable Farming Programme at the Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre in Grange, Co Meath.

November saw the conclusion of the Dairygold Henchy court case. Over 19 days, spread across four months, the case of the former chief executive of Dairygold against his former employers delved into almost every aspect of the diary industry in Ireland and across the world. Naturally AgriLand reported daily throughout the court case. Full court details are available here.

This month also saw a warning as Dublin was put on red alert for illegal milk sales to Northern Ireland. Prompted by concerns that significant volumes of milk were being sold directly by dairy farmers in the Republic of Ireland to outlets north of the border, Department of Agriculture staff in Dublin wrote out to all milk purchasers in the State.

A great manual was launched this month, the New Teagasc drainage manual and it has fast become a must read for any farmer,

Every now and then Teagasc undertakes a project which, in a very straightforward way, demonstrates why the organisation continues to play such an important role at the very heart of Irish agriculture.

A book celebrating the founding of Nenagh Creamery 100 years ago and Mid-West Creameries 50 years ago, and their amalgamation in 2001 to form Arrabawn Co-Operative Society was launched this month, by all accounts another must read. 

Details of the new dairy quality assurance scheme started to emerge which was to rollout in December. The Irish dairy industry has committed to providing an annual fund of €1m for a dedicated trade communications programme to promote the credentials of the Irish dairy sector as a source of high-quality, sustainably produced dairy products.

RDP rallying started to step up a gear where November saw more than 2,000 people attend the IFA rural development rally.

Also this month saw 1,000 herds across Ireland sign up for the Johne’s pilot programme run by Animal Health Ireland. Mike Magan, chairman of AHI, confirmed that the target had been met when he spoke last night at the DCU Ryan Academy Farm Entrepreneurship and Leadership dinner. Full reports on the DCU Ryan Academy programme is available here.

In addition, more than 1.9m calves born in 2013 were tested for BVD.

A great conference this month was the ICSO national meeting. Delegates attending the ICOS national conference in Portlaoise were told that it is feasible to sell most dairy products forward. But this approach should be regarded as a means of reducing risk – for both processors and farmers – and not a means of maximising profits. Full reports available here.

A topical report was published this month by Rabobank, which warned that rising milk production costs continue to squeeze margins. The Irish Dairy Board were quick to respond, noting it was confident that Ireland can tackle efficiency and milk output head-on

An agriculture jobs boom was noted by the CSO in November, a 29.3 per cent increase has been recorded in employment in agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors in Ireland this year.

In addition, the rollout of CAP difficulties was mooted at the annual Teagasc Business Conference this month. Economist Jim Power spoke on agriculture is a key contributor to rural economic activityFull reports are available here

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