Large numbers of young people wanting to work with animals and help farmers are going to Poland and Hungary to train.

Nothing new in this. The points system and a limited amount of places in Ireland force the decision. High points means only those with exceptional academic capabilities to achieve these high scores get the Irish opportunity.


Fair play to them for achieving this, but we must realise and accept this system does disadvantage many students that are very capable, exceptionally well educated, extremely interested in animals and farming, and would make excellent vets.

A new vet school might help, but realistically only marginally. Maybe we need to look at the Department’s demand for vets. Is it necessary that exceptionally well qualified vets are needed at many of the quality control points along the food line?

Is it necessary that vets are being soaked up by the Department of Agriculture for maintenance of quality standards? It may well be the case they are, but we should at least ask the question.

Investment better than de-stocking

The challenge by An Taisce to suggest that the Nitrates Directive is not fit for purpose remains ongoing.

The protracted legal correspondence published on Wednesday is really only being digested as we go to print. The fact is, that legislation is only really as good as implementation.

We have the EU policy using this blunt instrument (stocking rate limits) to enforce livestock reductions, when we know from science and measurement that it is only part of the solution.

In reality, it is investment, education and better management of nutrients that are probably more important in achieving the set aim of improving water quality.

Reducing the overall stocking rate load is an option, but surely the more practical measures of incentivising slurry storage, giving farmers a vision and direction on future stocking rates and providing high quality tailored advice and recommendations are far more important than limiting the potential of farms that we know are world class at producing high quality protein, using our comparative advantages.

The quicker some sensible policy decisions are taken in a European context, the better for farming and food.