UpFront JULY 2018 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com Irish killing fields The shocking accident and mortality list on Irish farms continues to grow. Week after week we have more fatalities and serious injuries reported from farms across the country. While the e orts of all concerned to curtail this list of misery and tragedy are welcome, we need to intensify those e orts. Unfortunately, there is no single action that will reduce the accident rate. Some initiatives have proven e ective. Loss of life or limb from interaction with power shafts is now very uncommon because of a successful safety campaign run by the HSA. Much more needs to be done to reduce accidents involving other aspects of farm machinery, as well as through interaction with farm animals. The very young and very old are most vulnerable but work stress, long working hours, isolation and lack of full awareness of the potential for danger on farms are still critical factors in the ongoing saga of Irish farm accidents. Unfortunately, these are the areas that are most di cult to solve, but that should not diminish our e orts to make farms safer places to live and work. Eleven meat plants can supply China The addition of another three Irish beef plants and one more pigmeat plant brings to 11 the number of Irish meat plants certified to trade on the Chinese market. In total, there are six beef plants and five pigmeat plants now available to supply Irish beef and pork to the 1.4 billon population Chinese market. All of the big names and some smaller ones are now certified, including Dawn, Rosderra, Staunton Foods, Donegal Meat Processors, Slaney Foods, Anglo Beef Processors, Kepak and McCarrens. This is quite an achievement given that the Chinese beef market only opened to Irish beef in April. While our wildest ambitions in terms of beef sales to China would not negate the impact of a hard Brexit, the Chinese market is already very important to the Irish agri food sector. Total Irish agri-food trade exports to China reached €974 million last year. It is now our third largest market overall. Dairy exports reached €667 million and pigmeat exports were over €100 million in 2017. These were the two largest categories of food exported to China and, for both of these commodities, China was the second largest destination market. Britain is still, by far, the largest single market for Irish meat. China is expected to consume over 8.5 million tonnes of beef in 2018. This is more than any other country outside the USA and almost 4 per cent ahead of 2017 consumption levels, so there is a great deal to be gained from this tedious certification process. Now we must hope that our processors will heed the advice from Bord Bia not to undermine the potential of the Chinese market by undercutting each other on price in order to gain market share. As ever there is only one loser in that scenario – the Irish beef farmer. Agri Guild Visit Keogh’s Family Potato Business The Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland recently visited the potato farm of the Keogh family in north county Dublin and enjoyed a tour facilitated by Tom Keogh of the company’s high-tech crisp manufacturing facilities. The Keogh family have been growing potatoes for over 100 years and diversified into the crisp business a few years ago, achieving great success, with an 8 per cent share of the overall Irish crisp market. Peter Keogh is at the helm of the business end of production, joined by sons Tom and Ross. Peter’s brother Derek and his son Tony grow hundreds of acres of the best quality spuds. Most of the machinery work is done by local contractors. During periods of extended dry weather, the crops are irrigated from a local river. Potato varieties like Lady Claire, Lady Rosetta and Verdi are grown for crisp making. Each bag of Keogh’s crisps has a unique ‘Spud Nav’, stating potato variety and field of growing, and name of person who cooked them. Flavours include Irish Atlantic Sea Salt from the Beara Peninsula, Roast Beef and Waterford’s Dungarvan Black Rock Irish Stout, and Shamrock made with real shamrock grown in Ballinskellig’s County Kerry. Earlier this year Keogh’s Crisps secured a major contract with Emirates, the largest international airline in the world, which will see an estimated one million bags being served on board annually. This enterprising family business now employs 90 people, exports to 15 countries and major export markets include China and the Middle East. 6