William Shaw, Dromoile, Co Tipperary
Brexit should be top of the agenda for the new Minister, says William.
“Brexit is the big one for the Minister. That’s a no-brainer, if we don’t have access to those markets, we’re sunk. We need to make sure the British live up to their commitments. That’s the bottom line.
“It’s scary times now [since the UK’s threat to renege on parts of the withdrawal agreement]. Especially because everything is so expensive at the moment. People have so many obligations and repayments to make, it’s not possible for us to not earn money for a year,” he says.
“The EU budget is another big challenge. The EU is spending all that money on keeping people alive during this virus [Covid 19], will there be enough money for everyone? That’s the question.
“All the messing around with Phil Hogan hasn’t helped but I think Mairead McGuinness is a good choice. She always understood farming, right back to Ear to the Ground if you go back long enough. She’s the right woman for the job. She is good and strong and nobody will bully her.”
Ken Bracken, Banagher, Co Offaly
Like sheep farmers all across the country, Ken believes that something is very wrong with the wool trade in Ireland. The Banagher farmer says the government should incentivise the use of wool for insulation in houses.
“I have bags of wool at home and it won’t pay me to bring it to the merchant. It won’t cover the cost of the diesel to bring it over, that’s the truth,” he said.
“There is no washing or grading of wool done in this country anymore. The government should be promoting wool for use as insulation. Wool is far more sustainable and a better insulator than artificial insulation.
“Why are we making all this man-made stuff, with a huge cost to the environment, when we have something there that is grown naturally and is a top quality product. It’s madness.”
Sean Collins, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare
Minister McConalogue needs to hit the ground running as Irish farmers face a very uncertain future, according to Sean.
“He has a lot to do and he needs to get working on his brief. The third man in three months, it’s crazy. There has been no one there since February, since the election. He needs to get working quickly.
“The situation around Brexit is very shaky too. That’s a big worry for down the road. Britain is our market, if we don’t have Britain, we have nothing.”
Marie Kenny, Roscrea, Co Tipperary
Marie hopes that we have seen the last of the ‘witch-hunts’ and the Minister will be allowed to get down to work.
“It’s been a mess for the last few months,” she says. It seems like there’s been witch-hunts out for some people. If they could just get down now and do their jobs we’d all be better off,” she said.
“If he [Minister McConalogue] could focus on one thing, it should be to get farmers the proper market price for their animals. The difference between what we get for cattle and sheep and what you see in the supermarkets is crazy.
“There is no market for wool at the moment. Nothing. We’re waiting and hoping that things will change, but we will have to do something soon, there is no room in the shed. It’s costing us €2.40 to shear them and we have 500 ewes so it’s a big problem.”
Christopher McLoughlin, Killaloe, Co Clare
“Brexit and CAP are the biggest issues on the table at the moment,” said Christopher.
“A lot of the CAP money will need to be co-funded by the Irish government and he [Minister McConalogue] will have to fight his case at government for that co-funding.
“And a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for Ireland. We need to avoid that at all costs.”
He also believes that the effects of Covid 19 are still being felt by the farming community.
“The social side of the mart is gone. Some of the older generation especially used to go to the mart for a social outing more than anything, they might have no business to do, only go for the dinner and the chat. That’s a big loss.”
Francie Gorman, Co Laois
“Wool has been a disaster this year,” said Francie. “Our wool made maybe €120 and I didn’t even take the cheque off the wool merchant. I have it left there in the hope that the price will go up before the end of the year.
“On the flip side of it, lambs have been a good sale all year. There is a buoyancy in the sheep sector that we haven’t seen for years. Long may it last.“
George Carry, Dromakeenan, Co Offaly
George is prevented from wearing a face mask because of a medical condition. He says that different marts now have different ways of handling Covid-19.
“I’m not buying or selling today, I’m only in with a neighbour. But I can’t get in. If you don’t have business inside, you wont get in today,” he said.
“They tell you that the ring is full, but when you go inside they are all two metres apart. That’s not full. They seem to be handling it differently in different locations.
“You see the children going back to school, wearing the mask all day inside in class. It’s tough. I don’t wear it at all. I had a big operation and the doctors have told me not to wear a mask. I’m not scared of it [Covid-19]. What can you do? You have to take a chance on it.”
John Quin, Roscrea
John says plantation owners are facing difficulties securing planning permission to manage their forestry.
“If you get a grant to sow trees, you’re entitled to harvest your crop. The first thing the Minister should do is tackle that problem. We can’t get a license to cut the trees.
“We need to be able to manage our forestry correctly. There is no point in thinning your trees when they’ve gone too high. They are not being fair to farmers.”
He also believes that the UK may be bluffing over its willingness to accept a no-deal Brexit.
“No one knows what will happen with Brexit. The UK will have to trade the same as Ireland and every other country. When they want beef, they’ll have to buy it. They’re not all going to turn into vegetarians overnight.”