Eye in the sky tech­nol­ogy set to re­place farm inspections

Prices top €10,000 at end of sea­son Charo­lais sale Satel­lite surveil­lance will take over from phys­i­cal inspections within two years, says Ho­gan

Irish Independent - Farming - - FRONT PAGE - MARTIN RYAN

EYE in the sky satel­lite surveil­lance with the pre­ci­sion to read live­stock tag num­bers is set to re­place the phys­i­cal in­spec­tion of farms for EU com­pli­ance.

“We are go­ing to abol­ish the need for farm inspections,” EU Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner Phil Ho­gan told farmers at the ICMSA an­nual gen­eral meet­ing at Lim­er­ick on Fri­day.

Within two years, com­pli­ance will be mon­i­tored by satel­lites pass­ing over the farm three times each week. Farmers “won’t have to worry any longer about the car-load of in­spec­tors ar­riv­ing,” said Com­mis­sioner Ho­gan.

CAP 2020 ne­go­ti­a­tions will not be con­cluded be­fore Com­mis­sioner Ho­gan is due to leave of­fice in May 2019, but he told the meet­ing that “the en­vi­ron­ment is­sue is go­ing to be­come the new quota”.

Bring­ing down emis­sion lev­els from agri­cul­ture will in­evitably ef­fect pro­duc­tion, he said, but the sit­u­a­tion is be­com­ing so se­ri­ous that there will be no al­ter­na­tive.

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Michael Creed said that con­ver­gence of the sin­gle farm pay­ment will be con­tin­ued in the next round be­cause “our pay­ment per capita needs to get closer to the over­all av­er­age”.

He told the ICMSA meet­ing that he was com­mit­ted to the live ex­port trade, which in­creased by 30pc in 2018 fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar in­crease in 2017, and he has sat down with the ex­porters to dis­cuss con­tin­ued growth.

On beef prices, Min­is­ter Creed said it is not within his re­mit to dic­tate to the pro­ces­sors how much they pay farmers, but stated that he will “fa­cil­i­tate a re­view of the grid (grad­ing) if that is what is wanted”.

He added that the Depart­ment has ap­proved “one ma­jor farm or­gan­i­sa­tion” for fund­ing to es­tab­lish a pro­ducer group to rep­re­sent farmers in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the pro­ces­sors but said that to date “no fund­ing has been drawn down”.

ICMSA pres­i­dent Pat McCor­mack warned the meet­ing that Brexit poses the biggest threat to farmers.

“We are head­ing to­wards po­ten­tial dis­as­ter in 16-odd weeks… and in terms of Ire­land’s prepa­ra­tion, all we’re see­ing is money be­ing pumped into state agen­cies to off­set the threat of Brexit while the pri­mary pro­ducer — who will ul- ti­mately pay the price of Brexit — has to date got lit­tle or no sup­port.” And he said that the milk price of be­low 30c/l for 2019 be­ing pre­dicted by dairy pro­ces­sors — the same level as 1998 — is an “in­sult” to pro­duc­ers, who will not ac­cept it.

He called on the pro­ces­sors to pub­lish wage and salary in­creases since 1998. The mar­ket is be­ing abused by large pro­ces­sors and re­tail­ers, claimed Mr McCor­mack, and he wel­comed the EU Com­mis­sion’s re­cent fo­cus on pri­mary pro­ducer re­turns.

On the chal­lenges posed by cli­mate change, Mr McCor­mack claimed Ire­land is the most ef­fi­cient coun­try in the EU from a car­bon per­spec­tive in pro­duc­ing milk and should be al­lowed to in­crease pro­duc­tion in line with global dairy de­mand growth of 1.5-2.0pc per an­num. He warned that prof­itabil­ity in the beef sec­tor has not changed in 10 years and called for a ded­i­cated sec­tor within the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture to drive live ex­ports. Mean­while, the ICSA has claimed that sig­nif­i­cant cuts in do­mes­tic beef pro­duc­tion are the only so­lu­tion to the cat­tle-price cri­sis.

The dry­s­tock farmers’ body main­tained that live ship­ping had to be ramped up to take out tens of thou­sands of calves that can­not be prof­itably fin­ished.

In a broad­side on farm pol­icy, ICSA main­tained that FoodWise 2025 had “failed dis­as­trously” to take ac­count of the un­in­tended con­se­quences of dairy ex­pan­sion on the beef sec­tor, and was un­der­min­ing Ire­land’s po­si­tion as a ma­jor beef ex­porter.

Beef prices this week were de­scribed as “soft” and are run­ning 15-20c/kg be­hind where they were this time last year. The bulk of bul­lock prices av­er­aged lower, this week by 1-4c/kg, although the Ring­side fig­ures for the for­ward store bul­lock (500-600kg) were im­proved by up to 6c/kg.

Phil Ho­gan and ICMSA pres­i­dent Pat McCor­mack

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