Minister announces measure to encourage fodder production

Prospect of Brexit is spectre at the feast for some exhibitors at Tullamore Show

 

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has announced a once-off extension to the period for spreading chemical and organic fertilisers in a bid to encourage fodder production.

Speaking on Sunday at the launch of Tullamore Show, the largest agricultural show in the country, Mr Creed also said he had convened a fodder co-ordination group to provide support and advice to farmers on maximising fodder production.

“Following consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Planning, Housing and Local Government Eoghan Murphy, I can announce flexibility on an extension to the closed period for spreading of chemical and organic fertilisers, in order to capitalise on autumn grass growth for fodder production.”

The summer drought, coming after a cold spring, has made it an extremely difficult year for farmers, with some feeding their cattle fodder which was saved for the coming winter.

Despite recent rain, the prospect of a fodder crisis next winter cannot be ruled out.

In showery weather, more than 60,000 people attended Tullamore Show, which is in its 27th year and offers €175,000 in prizes in the FBD National Livestock Show.

Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy was among those who attended the 260-acre showgrounds on the Butterfield Estate, where he chatted with local county councillors.

Safety and security

Farm safety was a topical theme at the show with demonstrations throughout the day, while MEP Mairead McGuinness launched the Embrace Farm Tractor Drive to raise awareness of dangers on farms.

Home security was also a talking point with the crime prevention officer for Laois/Offaly division, Graham Kavanagh, on hand with colleagues to highlight simple measures to combat rural crime.

He pointed out that the rise in the use of social media had been both an advantage and disadvantage for communities. “People ask their neighbours to keep an eye on their place while they’re away and then they put up a post on Facebook that they’re on holidays which can be an open invitation to some criminals.”

Sgt Kavanagh urged more farmers to pay attention to the IFA’s Theft Stop campaign, which encourages the use of visible marking. “You don’t have to be a member of the IFA to participate. If equipment is identified properly, it makes criminals less likely to steal it.”

Exhibitors at the show competed for 42 national titles in more than 1,000 classes.

Jerry O’Reilly from Rahugh who is apiary manager with the Offaly Beekeeping Association said the show was an opportunity to showcase the industry, which he said needed to move into the 21st century. Honey production was up this year after a few disastrous summers, he added, but he warned that this was a lean time now until the ivy blossomed so bees were prone to swarm.

Brexit

The prospect of Brexit was also the spectre at the feast for some exhibitors with March 2019 looming. Scotsman Paul Fielding of the Edinburgh Outdoor Clothing Company, who has been attending Tullamore Show for 15 years, said he hoped that Brexit would not have too much of an impact.

“The people who make the decisions on this are not going to be worried on Monday morning about paying their mortgage.

“It’s a pleasure to come here every year. We go to lots of shows throughout Ireland and the UK and I hope we can continue to do so.”

For many of the exhibitors the annual show is an opportunity to showcase their wares. In the Offaly Food, Craft and Tourism tent dozens of local companies offered everything from gin and whiskey to cupcakes, pottery, fairy dolls and the chance to participate in the Croghan Hill charity challenge which has raised more than €400,000 for charity since it began in 2011.

Paddy Dunican, managing director of Kilbeggan Racecourse, was still smiling after a successful Saturday evening race meeting which was introduced a number of years ago to offer a complete weekend’s entertainment for people attending from further afield.

Local businessman Christy Maye, who has been involved in the show since its inception, was delighted with the turnout.

The show developed following a conversation in December 1990 when a group of locals decided to host a show to generate interest in the area.

“It’s hard to quantify the benefits to the town,” said Mr Maye. “Every hotel within 30 miles is booked out. It puts Tullamore on the map.”