The Top 10 Summer Hurdles for Every Irish Farmer

From sourcing straw to farmer tans, the summer can be a stressful time on Irish farms. Rachel Hussey gives us the lowdown on what to expect from our farmers in the coming months.

1 (2)1. Will the sun ever come out?
You’ve endured the spring showers and now they don’t seem to be stopping and worse, the drains you put in last summer aren’t working like you thought they would. Disaster. What could possibly fix this? Sun. Nothing like the sun to get the grass growing.

2. Will it ever rain?
Ok, we got the sun but lads, it’s a bit too dry now isn’t it? Nothing like a drop of rain to get the fields to green up eh? We need a balance and Irish weather isn’t helping.

3. When can I spread the fertiliser?
Timing is key. You want to make the most of the possible grass growth but you don’t want your work washed away in the run off from the rain. Stress ensues.

4. “I wonder has Pat over the road started cutting?”
Nothing like the competition between neighbours about who will haul out the silage gear first and you keep an eye out from early May.

5. “What will we make the boys for their supper?”
The lads have been hard at work cutting and packing silage all day and they need to eat. Panic is inevitable. What kind of spread will you put out for them? Will they like a salad? What about some chips? Don’t even start me on those picky eaters – cue mammy shouting, “They’ll eat what’s put in front of them”. One plus though – the house is filled with the fancy biscuits.

6. Picking stones
The weather is fine. The land is dry. When will you get a more ideal time to pick stones than now? No one is quite sure what these stones are used for and the mystery will forever exist.

27. Farmers tan
You’ve been out all summer and your shoulders have been covered but your arms have been bare all season. What else can this mean but the unfortunate farmers tan creeping in? You will spend all summer trying to even this out but I mean why bother? Embrace it.

8. The second cut
The first cut of silage is done and you’ve noticed that you don’t have enough. You’ve decided to set a few paddocks aside and hope that the growth will take off with them. Now to decide when to get it done.

9. Who to get straw from?
The end of summer is fast approaching and you’re not entirely sure how you are going to get some straw to keep the cattle warm over those long winter nights. Time to start researching suppliers in the area.

310. Ploughing Championship
Nothing closes the summer quite like the Ploughing Championship. You pile the family into the car and head off at the crack of dawn ready to stock up on your yearly supply of stationery. What could be better?

Farm Incomes Rise Despite Collapsing Milk Prices

Average farm incomes up by 6% to € 26,526 Teagasc says but income on dairy farms is down by 4%

Despite a collapse in milk prices, average farm incomes in the Republic rose by 6 per cent to € 26,526 last year, according to Teagasc.

Farm incomes rise despite collapsing milk pricesThe group’s National Farm Survey shows average income on dairy farms fell by 4 per cent to € 63,020 amid a 20 per cent fall in prices.

The study is widely regarded as the definite measure of agricultural income in the Republic.

It suggests dairy farmers compensated for declining prices by expanding production, which was facilitated by the lifting of EU milk quotas.

Almost one in three dairy farms increased their milk production by 20 per cent or more, with just one-fifth of farms choosing to reduce output.

“The lower milk price in 2015 meant that dairy farmers had to increase their milk output by at least 20 per cent to just maintain their income at the 2014 level,” said Dr Thia Hennessy, head of the Teagasc farm survey.

In contrast to milk prices, cattle prices rose between 6 and 16 per cent depending on animal type.

As a result, average farm income on cattle farms rose between 29 and 34 per cent to €12,904.

The relatively low figure in this sector reflects the predominantly part-time nature of beef farming.

What Average Price Can Dairy Farmers Expect Over the Next Five Years?

Perhaps the most pertinent question for dairy farmers that was asked this week at an international dairy conference was what average price can they expect over the next five years.

However, few were prepared to answer the question.

what average price can dairy farmers expectDavid Dobbin, the outgoing Chief Executive of Dale Farm, said he does not see the current rate of three-year cycles continuing.

“The last cycle was helped by Europe having quotas. Now, the EU farmer can respond in a way he could not previously and that will cap the recovery.”

He warned that European dairy farmers are facing an era of quite low average milk prices for the next five years and said he would be shocked to see a spike in milk prices again, unless a severe crisis such as weather hits.

Making a prediction, he said low 20s, with a maximum of mid 20s for the immediate future. “The days of the big peaks are gone for five to 10 years”.

Adriaan Krijger, Dutch National Committee of the International Dairy Federation, reminded the audience at the DIN conference in London how experts, like himself, thought the Dutch milk price would be 40c/L in the past few years.

“In the Netherlands, we were very optimistic about global demand and the growth of world population. Now milk is a commodity and commodity tends to get lower in price – therefore, the dairy price will be low unless we are able through innovation and branding get a higher price.

“Only 15% of Friesland Campina milk is branded product. You need a lot of innovation and branding to have a positive impact on price.”

As Silage Season Draws Close – Think Safety First

Silage Season SafetyAs silage season draws ever closer, it’s time to turn our attention to one of the most dangerous parts of farming – using machinery.

Changing habits to avoid risky shortcuts with machinery could be a life saver this silage season.

If a machine becomes blocked while cutting grass, or baling silage, disengage the PTO and turn off the tractor before attempting to clear the blockage.

When working on a silage clamp, it’s best to work slowly in order to avoid a tip. Always check trailer lights before towing on the road and take care to maintain a safe speed especially on narrow road.

Tractors and machinery are the main causes of farm accidents in Ireland, so with silage season beginning it’s important to be safety conscious.

Before cutting, ensure that all tractors and machinery are in good working order:

  • Make sure that the machine is in a safe operating condition. All guards and safety devices must be in place and functioning correctly.
  • Make sure that machines and trailed equipment are correctly attached to the tractor or vehicle.
  • When attaching a machine, take the correct position in order to avoid getting crushed.
  • Always stop the machine and the tractor before attempting to carry out maintenance work or to free a blockage.
  • Make sure that the machine is adequately supported before working underneath.
  • Always turn off the PTO (Power Take Off) and the tractor before attempting to free a blockage or adjust a machine.

With cutting often going on long into the night, it’s important to ensure that all lights, mirrors and wipers are functioning correctly.

It’s also important to ensure that the brakes on the tractor are in good working order and that the handbrake is fully operational.

Farmers should take care when working with overhead power lines and take precautions to ensure that machinery doesn’t come into contact with the power lines.

Irish Farming Lacks ‘Practically Trained Farm Managers’ – Irish Farm Managers Association

Irish Farming Lacks Practically Trained Farm ManagersThe Irish farming industry is lacking practically trained farm managers, according to the Irish Farm Managers Association’s Chairman Gerry Twomey.
Speaking to the Teagasc Dairy Farm Management class in Moorepark on Wednesday, the Chairman said the education system is too focused on academic learning.
And as a result, some farmers are struggling to find practically trained managers to fill farm managers roles on farms.
Twomey also said that young farmers and managers need to be incentivised to allow them to follow a career in farming.
He said that the association has been looking for quotas or installation aid for farm managers for the last 20 years.
If there was some sort of an incentive it would be great, but it would have to be tailored to farm managers needs.
Also speaking at the event, former Chairman of the group, John Fitzgerald mirrored Twomey and said that young farmers need incentives.
But, he also said it was important for farm managers to take small steps to build a solid foundation, rather than taking a big leap and finding out that it wasn’t the right move for you.
“It is important to grow slowly, the steps you missed on the way up might not be there when you come back down,” he said.
“It is more important to take small steps and grow incrementally, you have a much greater chance of succeeding,” he said.
However, he said that young farmer managers need to remember the importance of a work life balance, as it is very important to live and have a good lifestyle.

New Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed Sets Out His Stall

Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Michael CreedNew Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed Sets Out His Stall

The new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed has said that he had no advanced inkling that he would be appointed to the position.

Speaking on C103fm the Cork North West TD said that the Dail was due to reconvene half past five and the bells had begun to ring.

“I said ‘that’s it, another ministerial bus missed’. Literally as the bells were ringing the Taoiseach’s office rang looking for me and the Dail was put back by three quarters of an hour.

“So that’s how it happened. I had no advanced inkling of it.”

Minister Creed said that he is looking forward to working with the industry and with farming bodies and to try do his best for the country for an industry that is a multi-billion euro one.

He then paid tribute to Simon Coveney, his predecessor and said that did an enormous amount of work.

There was a time in previous administrations when the industry was collectively referred to as a sunset industry.

“In fact I see it as entirely the opposite way it’s been an engine for our economic recovery. There’s a great job of work to be done there in building a coalition between those inside the farm gate and those outside it.

“We are a trading economy, exports are our lifeblood and the more we can export the better prices are secure.

“All the commodities are in difficulty in terms of prices paid to the primary producer, that’s a huge challenge.

“The State isn’t a purchaser of milk or beef, but there are issues in terms of policy we will be working on to ensure that those people can get a just reward from the huge endeavours they put in.

Minister Creed said that he has had contact already with IFA and the other farming organisations and that he’s looking forward to meeting them.

He said that young farmers are the future of agriculture and the age profile of farming is a concern.

It’s great to see places for example Darrara agricultural college bursting at the seams with people wanting to have a career in agriculture.

“I think it’s the ultimate vote of confidence by young people and it’s also a signal to people like myself that we have to make sure that these people can earn a decent living from this.

“I see it as my duty, that wherever a good idea comes from, I’m not prejudiced against it because it may not have originated in my department or Fine Gael.

“I’ll work with anybody that has a decent, constructive viewpoint that serves the industry well. So, independents, opposition… I’m open to good ideas from any quarter,” he concluded.

Farming CVs: Eight Tips to Writing a Job-Winning Resume

hiredfiredA good CV is your passport to getting a new job in agriculture – so getting it right is worth a bit of time and effort. Here is our guide to avoiding some common mistakes.

1. The name game
When an employer looks at a CV it is pretty obvious what it is. So there is no need to put the words curriculum vitae at the top. Put your name there instead, as that is what you want the person reading it to remember

2. Keep it relevant
It may be tempting to list every job you have ever held in your work experience section, but the two months you spent waiting tables 12 years ago probably isn’t adding very much. Cut the clutter and use the space to elaborate on a role that is relevant and which showcases skills that are pertinent to the job on offer.

3. Avoid fancy formatting
If you are applying for a job as a graphic designer there’s an argument that you might want to do something creative with the look of your CV. But for jobs in agriculture keep the formatting clean and simple and choose a standard font like Arial or Times New Roman.

4. Show, don’t tell
Anyone can claim to be brilliant, but it doesn’t mean that you are. Potential employers want to see what you have done, so rather than tell them you are “innovative” include an example of where you have done something innovative and the benefits it brought. In fact avoid buzzwords such as problem solver, dynamic or motivated completely – they are so overused they have become meaningless. Outline specific examples of where you have shown these traits.

5. Keep it clean
Ask yourself does really convey the right image to a prospective employer?
Set up a new account if your existing email address is anything less than professional. While you are at it, check out what anyone searching for you online might see on Facebook or Twitter. You might find the need to do some social media spring-cleaning.
6. Spell it out
Even if the job you are applying for is not one that requires much writing, there is nothing more off-putting than a CV with spelling mistakes. It suggests you lack attention to detail. Given this is your one chance to make a good impression, read it repeatedly and then get a friend or family member to read it too. Do not rely on the spellcheck on your computer as it won’t pick up words, such as there and their, that are spelled correctly but are being used out incorrectly.

7. Size matters
Two pages is the limit when it comes to a CV. Any more and you’ll send the person reading it to sleep.
The priority should be on information that demonstrates to the employer that you have the skills they are looking for. There is no need to outline every GCSE.

8. Have it covered
A good covering letter can be the difference between getting an interview or not. It should summarise what is in the CV but also emphasise why you are interested in the role and your key strengths in relation to it. It is your chance to tell the reader what makes you stand out from the crowd.