30th MAY 2019 - Page 5



NEWS
Second tranche ‘subject to funding’
THERE are still plans to roll out a
second tranche of the Farm Business
Improvement Scheme (FBIS), however,
it is unclear when this will go ahead.
The Department of Agriculture,
Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)
said decisions regarding another trance
will be “subject to a review of the
lessons learned from Tranche 1 and
funding availability”.
Divided into two tiers, the first tranche
of the capital element of the FBIS was
opened in October 2016 with Letters of
Offer for Tier 1 applicants distributed
earlier this year.
Distribution of Letters of Offer for
the larger-scale Tier 2 element of the
scheme began on October 31.
Providing an update on the progress of
the scheme, a DAERA spokesperson
told FarmWeek: “The Farm Business
Improvement Scheme – Capital is a
competitive process.
“The assessment of Tier 2 applications
is well advanced and selection panels
will continue to take place on a regular
basis over the coming weeks.
“The department started issuing
Letters of Offer to successful
applicants on October 31 but until the
assessment and selection process
is complete, it is not possible to be
definitive about the total number of
offers to be made.
“A second Tranche of FBIS-Capital is
planned, but it is not possible at this
stage to be specific about the timing.
“Decisions on Tranche 2 will be subject
to a review of the lessons learned from
Tranche 1 and funding availability.”
Cattle smuggling
is ‘still endemic’
across border areas
S
TARTLING new figures have revealed
that in excess of 10,000 cattle have been
reported missing across Northern Ireland
in the past three years, leading to claims that
cattle smuggling in border areas remains “rife”.
One in three of every missing animal was
reported in the Newry and Armagh areas while
the Dungannon and Omagh DAERA offices
recorded a loss of almost 3,000 cattle between
them, according to North Antrim MLA Robin
Swann.
The Ulster Unionist party leader said: “Over
the last three years 10,018 cattle have been
reported as missing across Northern Ireland.
A number of these will be cattle that have
genuinely been lost for a whole series of
reasons, but the reality is a large number have
been stolen.
“I am sick of hearing reports of quality cattle
being lifted, often under the cover of darkness,
by criminals who deserve to be locked up
rather than prowling the countryside thinking
they have the right to take whatever they like.
“Many of the people behind the thefts are part
of wider criminal gangs. Once the cattle are
stolen their identification is quickly changed
before they are later smuggled into factories in
the Irish Republic.
“The figures that have recently been
uncovered by my office paint a bleak but
unsurprising picture. The problem of cattle
going missing is particularly rife in the Newry
and Armagh areas, with those two border
areas alone representing over one in three of
every lost or stolen animal.
“Similarly the Dungannon and Omagh DAERA
offices have recorded a loss of almost 3,000
cattle between them. It has been known for
some time that cattle smuggling has been
particularly rife in the Clogher Valley.”
Mr Swann said such thefts could have a
devastating impact on farm businesses.
“Whether it’s two cattle or 20, these thefts
can decimate farm finances. Farming is a hard
enough living without having to worry about
gangsters moving around at night scoping out
their next target,” he said.
Calling for tougher action to curtail crossborder smuggling, Mr Swann continued:
“Whilst I know the PSNI have been trying to
clamp down on cattle smuggling, the reality is
a PSNI officer cannot be on every country road
every night. The shocking level of convictions
for cattle smugglers demonstrates that they
continue to act with relative immunity.
“New ideas are needed. We need a
concentrated effort to identify the factories
in the South that are accepting these cattle,
as well as shutting the illegal back yard
operations.
“Similarly we need to start thinking about
how a new system can be devised to make it
more difficult to simply change cattle IDs. At
the minute it’s only a case of removing an ear
tag, so perhaps voluntary DNA testing and
recording should be available and encouraged
along border areas just so that meat can always
be traced back to its actual point of origin.
“At present the criminals have got the upper
hand and that needs to change.”
FARM WEEK
NOVEMBER 09 2017
Union warns of possible milk scarcity
M
ILK supplies could be scarcer than
expected later this year, the Ulster
Farmers’ Union has warned as it
appealed to dairy traders to “stop talking down”
the price of mild cheddar.
It has called upon traders to take heed of the
warning signs coming from dairy sources as
the industry heads into the winter months off
the back of an already rocky year for farmers
weather-wise.
UFU Deputy President Ivor Ferguson said:
“With many dairy farmers readying themselves
for a fodder shortage on the back of cows being
housed early, depleted silage stocks and later
cut silage with negligible nutrient content, we
could be facing a situation where milk could be
scarcer than expected later in the year.
“To date, whilst milk production levels are on
the rise after months of consecutive decline,
they have not increased by the levels expected
in the price cycle.
5
“Consequently, we were puzzled to read in
the dairy industry press that some traders are
talking down the price of mild cheddar.
“There is no denying the fact that some
dairy commodity products have been facing
downward price pressure, however, as far as
mild cheddar is concerned, the price is holding
up due to limited stocks and lack of available
product.”
With other commodity prices falling, the
base price paid to local dairy farmers needs
to be an accurate reflection of the product mix
in Northern Ireland and cheddar cheese is a
sizeable proponent of that basket.
“The reality is that the price of mild cheddar
is sustainable at the current higher levels.
With ready product not available until the New
Year we are calling for traders to stop talking
down the price of mild cheddar as this is an
unrealistic reflection of the market,” added Mr
Ferguson.

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