JANUARY 2020 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com Contents AVAILABLE ONL THROUGH Y Editorial Water and welfare Two key determinants of the reputation of Irish farming in 2020 and beyond will be our animal welfare standards and the efforts made to stabilise and improve the quality of our waterways. Our animal welfare protocols stand up to examination. On a very basic level we have amongst the lowest calf mortality rates in the European Union. This was well clarified by Padraig French of Teagasc Moorepark when he explained at the Teagasc Dairy Conference in December that Irish calf mortality rates are ‘extraordinarily low’ by international standards. In the years since dairy expansion began, with a consequent increase in calf numbers on farms, the figures for calf mortality both at birth and by 28 days have decreased, showing that there is no correlation whatsoever between increased calf numbers and lower welfare standards on Irish farms. Our comprehensive traceability system means that the Teagasc researcher’s data stands up to the closest scrutiny. At 3.20 per cent mortality by 28 days of age, our most important statistic of basic calf welfare is a fraction of that achieved by most significant dairy industries across the globe where 10 per cent mortality is nearer the norm. The worth of the Irish family-run dairy farm, where there is personal responsibility and pride in managing livestock, is clearly manifested by these figures. Continuing vigilance and hard work will be needed to maintain these exemplary welfare standards. Another important measurement by which our farming standards will be judged is in relation to the water quality of Irish rivers. Ireland’s water quality remains one of the highest in Europe. It is, however, going in the wrong direction as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency. There is clear and unambiguous evidence that sewage and wastewater from urban centres is a big contributor to deteriorating water quality in many of our rivers. It is estimated that waste from the equivalent of a town of 80,000 people is being released into our rivers every day. It is a moral and legal imperative that this practice must stop. In addition to the nitrogen and phosphorous from urban waste lowering our water quality there is also recognition that organic and inorganic fertiliser losses from Irish farms are also contributing to rising levels of these chemicals in our rivers. Over the past 10 years Irish farmers have invested an estimated €2.5 billion in abatement measures to eliminate pollution risks from their farms. More needs to be done and actions are currently being taken to further reduce risks of nutrient run-off, including the increasing adoption of low emission slurry spreading equipment, greater use of protected urea products and encouragement of increased soil sampling and liming of pH-deficient land. A fully subscribed Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) as well as high participation rates in the voluntary Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) being run by Teagasc and the Dairy Coops are added indicators of positive farmer responses to the need to further improve our environmental standards and particularly the further reduction of nitrogen and phosphorous losses from our farms. At this stage good farming practice includes fencing off waterways and adherence to closed periods for slurry and fertiliser spreading. Our national livestock stocking rate is low by international standards. Farms with higher than average stocking rates are subject to onerous regulatory standards with high inspection rates and compliance requirements. That is a must be if we are to adequately show Irish farmers commitment to excellent environmental standards and our willingness to improve these even further. As a certain former Taoiseach once said ‘much done and more to do’. We wish our readers a healthy and productive New Year. @farmersmonthly /irishfarmersmonthly www.irishfarmersmonthly.com JANUARY 2020 Phil Hogan talks trade, price and Brexit ALLTECH’S DR MARK LYONS LOOKS TO THE FUTURE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF INNOVATION 2020 AXA BUMPER TRACTOR GUIDE INSIDE 4 Upfront 8 Business News 10 Cover Story 12 Interview 14 Feature 20 24 60 68 76 77 78 81 82 Phil Hogan on trade, price and Brexit Dr Mark Lyons, Alltech CEO Farm incomes 2020 ICMSA Education Management Hints Machinery Safety Motoring Rural Life Competition Very End AXA Tractor Guide 32 A decade of change 34 AXA Tractor Guide: 2020 listings Editor: Matt O’Keeffe Editorial Director: Miriam Atkins Sheep Editor: Gerry Murphy Tillage Editor: Jim O’Mahony Machinery: Noel Dunne Motoring: Bernard Potter Journalist: Bernie Commins Design: Niall O’Brien Production: Ciaran Brougham Martin Whelan Barry Sheehan Advertising Manager: John Sheehan Commercial and Advertising Manager: Anna Douglas Accounts: Tricia Murtagh Administration & Subscriptions: Sue Nolan Chief Executive: Rebecca Markey Printing: W&G Baird Publishers: IFP Media Subscription: €40 per annum Irish Farmers Monthly, Castlecourt, Glenageary, Co. 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