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MAY 2019
APRIL 2019
Business news
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4 Upfront
10 Business
14 Feature
Dr Paddy Wall, Professor of Public
Health at UCD, addressed an audience
of animal nutritionists recently
16 Interview
John Cahalan, Chief Commercial
Officer at FBD Insurance, discusses the
trends in the marketplace


22 Interview
Eddie Punch, ICSA General Secretary
on the challenges his members face

24 Tillage

26 Dairy

45 Alltech

47 Management Hints

54 Machinery

63 Rural Life

70 Very End
Farmers on a treadmill
We should not underestimate the adverse pressures
being brought to bear on our farming model.
Many of our e orts to increase sustainable farming
practices are dismissed as `greenwash'. Despite the
fact that Irish livestock production is recognised as
one of the most natural systems of food production
on the planet, with cattle and dairy cows grazing for
nine months every year, the criticism increases with
every passing day. Not only are our food producers
assailed by ideologists who would wipe out our
livelihoods, the economic wellbeing of our farm
sector is also under stress from unsustainably low prices. Irish dairy and
beef prices are increasingly set by world markets, in turn, driven by highly
industrialised, confined production systems.
There is a belief that our unique production methods count for little
in adding value to our produce over and above the mass production
systems found elsewhere. Is our livestock production system capable of
delivering an added value price bonus to Irish farmers? On all available
evidence, the answer is no. Our successes in premiumising a handful
of products - including Kerrygold butter in Germany and the US,
and Angus beef on Dutch supermarket shelves - are negated by our
inability to market the vast bulk of our produce at prices much higher
than base commodity. This is not quite what our marketeers suggest
as they highlight the fact that our beef is available in many of the top
supermarkets across Europe. Likewise, significant amounts of Irish milk
powder are used in highly priced Infant Formula products. Our cream
is used in the production of one of the world's best-selling liquors. Irish
tillage farmers supply malt barley to produce the fastest expanding
whiskey brands on the planet. Yet the plain facts come back in terms
of farmgate price di erentials. There is little discernible margin for the
Irish primary producer over and above that attained by producers of
commoditised versions of our products elsewhere. Much has been
made, rightly, of Bord Bia's e orts to promote the sustainability and
environmentally enhanced reputation of our food production systems.
We have achieved a world first in terms of carbon-footprinting our
produce. Has this delivered a discernibly superior pricing margin for Irish
producers? The reality is that as our production standards rise, so too do
the demands of food retailers as well as the expectations of consumers.
Those expectations are not matched, in most instances, by a willingness
to recognise and reward the extra cost and e ort of producing these
high-quality foods or, at least, the pricing mechanisms do not deliver any
value-added price di erential all the way back down the food chain to
the primary producer. This treadmill continues to increase in speed with
farmers frantically moving ever faster to maintain living standards. As Irish
farmers continuously improve their production standards and increase
output in attempts to maintain incomes, many are losing confidence
that the outcomes are worth the e ort. It is not as if farmers cannot
recognise the need for high food production standards. We justifiably
want to see our e orts deliver a clear pricing di erential for our produce.
Unfortunately, it seems that this is not the way the food world works. No
one owes us a living and while our produce is held in high regard and our
reputation for certifiably sustainable produce opens export routes and
supermarket doors, there is not overwhelming evidence that it delivers
above average prices, apart from a few aforementioned exceptions
which are swallowed up in the bulk pricing of the rest of our produce.
Focus - Beef
Li ing profitablilty
Market dynamics and opportunities
Twenty20 Beef Club programme
Smart farming
Alltech's One 19