When you initiate farm schemes to try and please everyone, sooner or later the cracks appear.

ACRES is one such scheme.

Continual payment delays have been compounded by some co-operation farmers not receiving scorecard information, despite ACRES advisors out taking measurements for over 12 months.

For some, there remains no sign of balancing payments or approval of non-productive investments.

Farmers have taken on measures in good faith, and now there are delays in rewarding many of the farmers for that work.

Something is not adding up – the capacity was either not there from the start or something has gone wrong in the meantime. Farmers deserve answers. They’ve heard all the excuses around the delays, but they are of limited value if not paid up.

Beef prices could see a UK driven boost

The fact that the UK can’t produce enough beef to feed its people, and yet UK farmers are rewarded for leaving fields idle is hard to get your head around.

From a financial viability perspective it is now the best decision for many UK farmers to leave fields idle, because it derisks the farm business to increasing costs and weather pressures.

They get rewarded, above what they could achieve if it was farmed, by a cheque in the post from the UK government.

We then see (page 14) the predictions that the UK needs to import over 400,000 tonnes of beef each year. Irish beef is in pole position to fill this requirement, and is well respected and valued. Needless to say the Australians and the New Zealanders also want a share of the pie.

How much they can supply, and at what price, holds a large part of the key to what Irish farmers can make from beef in the coming years.

What farmers can control will be on display at Grange next week. For now, Irish farmers will value and protect the measured trust in Irish meat.

Nitrates fundamentals

We can’t continue to demonise one small sector of farming with a rule that impacts on every other farmer, and potentially sinks all farm boats.

We know a lot from the very good and detailed existing nitrates catchment work about how nutrients escape from soils and farmland.

Restricting the potential of 7,000 farmers, who are some of best nutrient managers in the 130,000 landowners is not good enough.

In the last week, we have seen how one bad act can kill life in a river for years, despite the excellent work of farmers and landowners.

We also heard that one hour long deluge of rain, in a specific location, at a specific time, can allow as much phosphorus into a river as what happened in the previous 18 months.

We need to get real about managing the challenge and be honest with farmers rather than stringing everyone along and expecting change.

Investment on farm needs clear direction and visions. Farmers are willing if they have a road map. Without a road map expect little change. How can there be change if nobody knows where stocking rate is going.