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Noel Dunne
Machinery Editor

‘Give the farming community more of a voice’

Well readers, as I sit here and pen this month’s column, not much has changed weather-wise since last month.

You could get burnt in the morning and rained on in the evening. Hello Irish summer!
There has been a lot of hay made though around me this year, but when I enquired there was none for sale. ‘We could need this yet’, was the reply, or ‘it could be a long winter’. Farmers are preparing to avoid falling into a fodder trap and end up being short. Remember last year, it hardly stopped raining after The Ploughing and it turned into a long, wet winter. So every possible blade of grass has to be saved now and farmers have to try and squeeze that extra cut, if the weather will allow it. I can see grain harvesting and hay- and silage-making going hand in hand this year. I don’t fancy the contractor’s job this year – do they go combining or foraging? Pick your machine and go. All these decisions are weather driven, and cause an overlap of work, putting pressure on the contractor and machinery available. Good luck to them all over the coming weeks.
I am not really a political animal myself. I would be very honest and say I would vote for whatever party would look after the interests of farmers and the wider agri-business industry – within reason. Now, unless you were locked in a barn for the last month you know we had local and European election frenzies going on up and down the country. This time, I took quite an interest in our local elections here in Co. Laois. I personally know some of the candidates who put themselves forward; some, I do not; and others are life-serving members of the county council who just top the poll all the time, anyway.
One reason for my interest this time was because a neighbour and friend of mine was running for the first time. He had been co-opted to fill a position left vacant after the sad passing of another local representative. Now, this friend of mine is a farmer with a young family, understands local issues and national issues, and would have been an excellent person to have as a liaison between the urban and rural councillors, communicating all the goings on in the country and understanding what is happening in the towns. Sadly, he missed out by very narrow margins, so tight that there was a re-count.
I was at the count centre and I can tell you it is not a place for the faint hearted. The highs, the lows, the happiness, and the disappointment – pain etched on the faces of the losers, relief on the faces of the winners. The place is an emotional rollercoaster. But my point is that it is important to have a rural-urban balance in local politics. We need voices from all sides. I would dearly like to find out exactly how many farmers stood for both the European elections and local elections. Not many, not enough. This is my call out to young farmers: get involved in local politics, and give the farming community more of a voice in your own county.
Recently, Tractor of the Year (TotY) 2025 kicked off in Milan with 25 different journalists – myself included, as the Irish representative – getting the opportunity to see 17 world-leading tractor manufacturers show 21 tractors across various TotY categories. I will have more on this in the August issue.
After talking to my friends and journalists in Italy who all represent key farming publications and networks in Europe, the common factor and main points of discussion around the dinner table were to do with the uncertainty in agriculture – weather, commodity prices, input prices, cost of machinery replacement in all countries. This is not just an Irish problem where sometimes we think the Government doesn’t really get farming issues. I can tell you it is a major issue in many countries in Europe. Many of my colleagues feel that it is a short-term blip. We will wait and see.
To wrap up this month, I want to offer my sincerest and deepest condolences to my cousin, Pat Scully’s, family and many friends of Cherry Hill House, Ballyhyland, Co, Laois. Pat sadly passed away in late June. He was a visionary and a leader when it came to dairy farming. He made things work in hard times, and he built, bit by bit, one of the finest dairy enterprises in his area. His son, Donald Scully, now runs the business, ably assisted by his family – three generations now on the farm. Donald is well known in dairy sectors through his involvement at the top level in the ICMSA and his appointment back in 2022 to the Teagasc Authority. Once again, our sincere condolences to Pat’s wife Kathleen, son Donald, daughter Lisa, brothers Tom and Peter.
Until next month, farm safely, farm wisely.