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‘Disturbing’ sums paid by IFA

CONFIDENCE in the country’s leading lobby group and largest farming organisation received another hammer blow this week when it was revealed that outgoing Irish Farmers’ Association’s presidents received a year’s salary as “a golden handshake”. “There is massive disappointment regarding the presidents’ golden handshake. Farmers are really disappointed, more than anything else. We knew the general secretary was on big money but it turns out that it was bigger than we knew,” said Ardrahan farmer and Galway IFA chairman Pat Murphy. While revelations about the pay of former general secretary Pat Smith rocked the IFA in recent weeks, the full scale of his pay and pension contributions since 2009 were revealed at a marathon meeting of the IFA national executive on Tuesday. The new information was contained in the report and recommendations on the association’s structures and procedures and certain remuneration issues presented by former IFA chief economist and Clare-man Con Lucey. It shows that Mr Smith received more, each …

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IFA demands flooding action plan

IFA Connacht regional chairman and Flooding Project Team chairman, Tom Turley has called for a meeting of the National Emergency Coordination Group to put in place an action plan to deal with the current severe flooding. Making a direct appeal to Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and Minister for Public Works Simon Harris, he said, “Farmers across the country have endured a very difficult situation, particularly in western, north-western and midland counties. Already, IFA is reporting devastation to thousands of acres of farmland, households cut off, and animals having to be moved to higher ground. “The problem is particularly acute on the River Shannon where already Lough Allen has reached the peak water levels of the 2009 winter floods. In other areas such as Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Longford, Westmeath, Roscommon, Offaly, Clare and Limerick vast amounts of lands and households are flooded many of which have never experienced such devastation. “There is now a need for a clear Government response. While river …

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Clare IFA honour ‘natural leader’

A special stone plaque commemorating the life of a Corofin “natural farming leader” will be revealed at the Clare IFA 60th anniversary dinner dance in Treacy’s West County Hotel on Saturday night. Clare IFA will present the plaque to the family of the late Tom Cahill, who will lay it on his grave at Corofin cemetery after the function. The citation on the stone reads, “Tom Cahill, in recognition of your outstanding contribution to Irish farming, Clare IFA”. The first Clare IFA chairman was one of the most influential figures in local and national politics for years, particularly during the formative years of the new association. Among his main achievements was being a founder member of National Farmers’ Association (NFA) in 1955, which later became the IFA, serving as secretary of the national council. A staunch supporter of farmers’ rights, he devoted his life to improving the supports for farmers and left a huge legacy to Irish agriculture when he …

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Hen harrier controversy continues

ICSA RURAL Development chairman, Billy Gray has insisted that every hectare covered by a hen harrier designation must be adequately compensated. According to Mr Gray, the current option available to farmers under GLAS is “woefully inadequate”. “The potential for locally-led hen harrier schemes, which is currently under examination, is a positive move,” he acknowledged, but he expressed concern that it may take too long to get locally led schemes in place. “The locally-led schemes, which are expected to mirror the Burren scheme, are still at a planning stage. The difficulty with the locally-led scheme model is that the hen harrier designations are dispersed over several regions. “Farmers with hen harrier designations in Laois have no prospect of being able to be part of the same scheme as farmers in Limerick or Cork. Therefore several schemes are required and each scheme will need appropriate professional expertise to assist farmers in drafting plans,” he said. Mr Gray said any scheme must get away from …

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Grants to grow the horticulture sector

Minister of State Tom Hayes, has launched the 2016 Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector. “This competitive grant aid scheme is the main scheme providing assistance to Irish horticultural growers. Investments approved for aid under this scheme will assist growers to diversify, improve quality and add value, provide better working conditions and facilitate environmentally friendly practices all of which, in turn, will contribute to achieving the targets set for the horticultural sector in Food Wise 2025” Minister Hayes said. The scheme is open to all horticultural sectors – protected crops, nursery crops, field vegetables, soft fruit, apples, beekeeping and mushrooms and will provide grant aid, at a rate of 40% (50% in the case of qualifying young farmers), for approved capital investments undertaken by September 30 next year. In certain limited cases, however, funding may be approved for investments that will be completed and claimed prior to September 29, 2017. “This scheme will assist …

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Farmers have chance to clear hazardous waste

Clare farmers are being encouraged to avail of an upcoming opportunity to dispose of their hazardous wastes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has teamed up with Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Local Authorities, WEEE Ireland and the European Recycling Platform (ERP) to operate 10 bring centres for the collection of farm hazardous waste across the country, one of which will be located in Ennis next Monday, from 9.30am to 3.30pm. Waste items ranging from out-of-date pesticides to waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) and from waste engine oil to contaminated waste packaging can be deposited at Ennis Mart. The farm hazardous waste campaign was successfully piloted in 2013 and ran again in 2014. Over 3,000 farmers brought waste to 16 collection centres and disposed of 260 tonnes of hazardous waste and 100 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and batteries. “This scheme provides farmers with an excellent opportunity to dispose of their hazardous wastes …

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Clare farmers to share €7.8m

THE Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney has announced that almost €7.8 million will be issued to Clare farmers under a special scheme. The Department of Agriculture have started to issue €117 million in payments nationally and €7,797,885.91 here in Clare under the 2015 Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme. “These payments will provide a financial boost for the 3,564 farmers in Clare who have been approved to receive this payment. The Minister also confirmed that payments will continue to issue as individual farmers’ cases are confirmed eligible for payment,” Fine Gael TD Pat Breen said in welcoming the payments. “It is also expected that 70% of the Basic Payment Scheme will be paid from October 16, with balancing payments issuing from December 1. It is essential that we continue to support farmers in every way we can during the current challenging times. Fine Gael’s top priority is to secure the economic recovery. We have a clear plan …

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Diabetes screening at ploughing championship

Following on the detection of potential diabetes in more than 600 visitors to the National Ploughing Championship last year, Lions Clubs plan to screen more than 10,000 people at the 2015 event in Ratheniska, County Laois. A team of 120 Lions and qualified nurses will be at the Lions Marquee at Ratheniska from Tuesday to Thursday next. They will offer visitors a free simple, painless blood test which is designed to identify early symptoms of diabetes. The Lions are confident that they will significantly exceed the 7,210 visitors who availed of the test last year in Retheniska. Last year 8.3% of those screened, mainly farmers, were identified as potentially diabetic and were referred to their GPs for further examination. According to Marion Conneely, District Governor of Lions in Ireland, the incidence of diabetes is accelerating rapidly in rural Ireland due to diet and lifestyle changes. “Medical experts estimate that up to 200,000 people with diabetes in Ireland are unaware of …

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