Peter Hynes: Do Bord Bia deserve the criticism they get? I don’t think so….
The year really is flying by and with silage crops bulking up, it won’t be long before the smell of cut grass fills the countryside where there will be a hum of silage harvesters and mowers late into the evenings.
We have 90 acres of first cut silage closed up here and with all our slurry spread our plan is to spread all silage ground with 2.5t of lime once the first cut is finished.
We have minimal reseeding to do this year, but soil fertility is still the best on farm investment by a long shot.
The last week has been hectic with our annual herd TB test and thankfully we received the all clear for another year. We also had our second milk recording of the year and a morning’s hoof pairing to ensure lameness doesn’t become an issue.
The breeding season also kicked off and we already have over 30pc of the herd served so hopefully it will tidy up fast. Pre-breeding went well and cows are in fantastic order.
We had a few days away in Dublin to recharge the batteries and it was fantastic to catch up with good friends, have a few drinks, some good food and great chats.
Our trip started with a visit to Catherine and Liam Mellerick’s once-a-day dairy herd in Fethard, Co Tipperary.
I have always admired them as top class farmers, but seeing first hand the superb herd of cows combined with a simple but effective system made the visit worthwhile.
I’ve always believed we as farmers need to connect with the public, share the reality of farm life and most importantly be our own shop window.
We’ve hosted groups previously for Farm Tours Ireland, a great farm success story run by Gerry, Aonghus and Siobhan Giggins.
We have bigger plans in store for 2019 and recently we welcomed our first of many US tour groups on to the farm. Our guests weren’t shy about throwing real questions at us.
Topics ranged from glyphosphate, hormones, antibiotics, traceability and then a wonderful question: “Where is the lucky guy that mates with all these cows?”
When I said we mostly use AI, there were a lot of shocked faces, but once I explained the process and reasoning behind AI everyone agreed it was a better option.
The group were surprised to hear we can’t use hormones, how highly regulated we are on chemical usage and they seemed really impressed with how Bord Bia audit us and the standards of traceability we have.
We look forward to welcoming more US groups and we also have a French and Australian booked in so they’ll keep us busy for the summer.
Having these tours got me thinking about the criticism Bord Bia has been receiving lately.
It seems to me some are trying to blame them for weak beef prices but do they deserve this criticism?
I don’t think so – we need to be regulated and audited on farm. If the auditing becomes more stringent there will always be those that will complain so Bord Bia can’t please everyone but let’s be clear: they sell our story globally and agri-food exports totalled €13.6bn in 2018 – not bad for a small country on the edge of Europe, but let’s not forget we are still competing in a global market.
The way Bord Bia audit us doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll get paid more, but it certainly makes it easier for them to open new doors for our produce.
And as for Origin Green, it is designed to improve us as farmers while answering the questions our customers want answered .
With all the work the likes of Bord Bia, Ornua and others do promoting Irish agriculture globally, we still need to remember the consumer both here and abroad is always watching, always listening and always wanting to learn more about what we do on farm.
So it’s up to us to keep the shop window looking smart.
Peter Hynes farms with his wife Paula in Aherla, Co Cork