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ON THE FARM: Anti-farming agenda growing on RTÉ

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A sense of hope is emerging on the farms of Clare as the cycle of rebirth begins but an anti-farming agenda is developing on RTÉ, Joe Melody writes in his latest column for The Clare Echo.

As I sit down to write this week’s column on St. Brigid’s Day, the green shoots of spring are already emerging sprouting up through a green but saturated winter landscape. The green shoots are evident not just in the emergence of the daffodils coming nearer and nearer to their spring showing of sunshine like blossoms. There is the ever lengthening evenings that play backdrop to the birth of new calves and lambs. This is always my favourite time of year as the cycle of rebirth begins and creates a sense of hope and excitement for the year to come.

With all the positivity of the spring, one might be forgiven for thinking that there would be ample content that RTÉ or other broadcasters might like to cover about nature and farming in order to give the public something positive to look to rather than the exceptionally grim news on offer daily.

On the RTÉ news there was a piece on the Six One News to announce spring has arrived, it was about baby dairy calves. Was it about the beauty and wonder of new life? Perhaps it was about the maternal bond between mother and calf? None of these themes of course. The piece discussed the concerns that exist around exporting these calves to the continent. It didn’t address the fact that the export of these calves is heavily regulated requiring several stop offs on their trip to the continent. The fact that the trucks the calves are exported in are well ventilated, bedded with deep warm dry beds of fresh straw. They enjoy fresh air through a ventilation system also.

Why did the piece fail to address any specific perceived issue with the live export of calves? Well maybe its because the argument is built upon pillars of sand and a vague argument against export will suffice because it sits well with RTÉ and their every growing anti farming agenda.

At home we are easing ourselves into a steady drip of calving that is so far so good. We emptied all the slurry in the tanks on the home farm at the weekend, this was spread using our contractors new umbilical system or colloquially known as “the pipe”. I was extremely impressed with how it worked as we were spreading slurry on land over a kilometre from the slatted tank. No damage was done on the land and as it has a dribble bar fitting the slurry went into the sward neatly and hopefully there will be a boost in extra grass growth from its early application.

From what I can see on the swards, early nitrogen in either chemical or organic form will be needed more than ever as some swards have a yellow tinge owing to all the rain we’ve had since August. This has led to a washing of soil, making it hungrier than normal for nutrients so we intend to spread urea at a rate of 23 units on any of our paddocks that didn’t receive slurry this year.

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