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Letter From The Farm | Winterage In The Burren

We’re back on Shane Casey’s farm in the Burren, Ireland. It’s nearly time for the reverse transhumance drive – or ‘winterage’ as it’s known locally. Grazing over the winter allows the Burren’s unique mix of flora to thrive. It’s a quintessential example of farming for conservation, explains Shane. […]

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Slashing Space for Nature? Ireland Backsliding on CAP basics

Cutting space for nature on farms, from its own proposed level of 5% to just 4%, is the most brutal of adjustments mooted by the Department of  Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in one of the final CAP consultations last Thursday.  A list of five for the most part unambitious eco-schemes has also been announced, which will do little to move Irish agriculture towards a more environmentally sustainable place.  […]

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Ireland’s Our Rural Future – a rural digitisation gold standard? 

Broadband for all, even in the most remote regions; smart, revitalised villages and towns with hundreds of remote working hubs; a rural youth assembly, significant numbers of public and private workers for rural areas; Local Digital Strategies in administrative regions; and all done in a well-planned way to optimize synergies and transition towards carbon neutrality –  it sound like a sustainable rural digitalisation dream. So is it?  […]

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Letter From The Farm | Health, Husbandry & High Quality Meat

We’re back on Shane Casey’s farm in the Burren, Ireland. Here, with the harvest in full swing, lambs and weanlings are being sold. In an ideal world Shane would like his meat to be consumed locally. In reality, in rural areas like his, supply outstrips demand. Shane prides himself on the quality of his meat. Working backwards from butchery to husbandry to breeding, he shares some insights into the process.  […]

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Farm Specialisation or Diversification?

Here we publish a short extract on farm diversification from the recent Feeding Ourselves Policy Document. In this piece, Matteo Metta widens the focus of diversification, while also addressing some blind spots on data gaps and value adding. For more from Matteo and many others, download the full report in the article.  […]

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Feeding Ourselves 2021 – Policy Report Ireland

ARC2020 today releases a new report drawn from a policy event organised in Ireland during the Summer. This report compiles responses to a joint policy document on the future of farming and food in Ireland, adding farming, rural and policy perspectives to the collective voice of Ireland’s environmental organisations. Below read the intro and download the full report. […]

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Letter From The Farm | Welcome To The Burren

Welcome to the Burren in the West of Ireland, where Shane Casey’s family have been farming Blackhead mountain for some two hundred years. Here, the unique limestone landscape requires a unique way of farming. Traditions are passed down through many generations of Burren farmers to maintain the critical symbiotic relationship between farming and conservation. In his first Letter From The Farm, Shane takes us through farming in the Burren, past and present. […]

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Hidden Formulas and Agri-Media – Can we Find a Fair CAP in Ireland?

With EU CAP trilogue negotiations entering a critical, final phase, the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine has published the results of a modelling analysis on its official website. This analysis, published in April, attempts to estimate the effects of 85% internal convergence of direct payments by 2026. While the results have been used to make strident, fear-mongering statements in the farming press, the methods used to come to these conclusions remain unclear. And the conclusions may in fact be be quite different to what is being reported in the farming press in Ireland. […]

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Ireland | Forty Shades Of Greenwashing? – Part 1

Ireland’s current agri-food strategy places environmental protection and economic competitiveness on an equal footing. But can ambitions for growth be squared with the state’s duty to protect the environment? In the first of a two-part series, Alison Brogan investigates the realities of sustainable growth on the Emerald Isle. […]

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Ireland | Wake Up and Smell the Ammonia

In Ireland, dangerous levels of ammonia emissions are driven largely by the burgeoning cattle population. Yet policymakers are turning a blind eye to the link between ammonia pollution and the expanding national herd. The evidence shows that Ireland is pursuing growth in the agri-food sector at the expense of air quality, biodiversity and human health, reports Alison Brogan. […]

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Ireland | EIPs make the case for a better CAP

A group of EIPs – European Innovation Partnerships – has come together in Ireland to argue the case for this environmentally engaged form of farming. So what’s next – will some of the methods and approaches used in these EIPs become templates for other farming regions in Ireland, or for the design of CAP schemes, or for more market-orientated approaches such as PDO and PGI? Here we publish a joint letter by a number of EIPs from Ireland to help stimulate this debate.  […]

Main stories

Letter From the Farm – of Seeds and not Reseeding

Madeline McKeever has been farming in west Cork, on the edge of the Atlantic, since 1999. First in dairy and cheese making, then beef, and now mostly selling organic vegetable seeds. Madeline has seen a lot – like the return of mushrooms, white clover, and dozens of plants in her unploughed sward. […]

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Europe’s Agroecology Movement – Stepping up in Times of Covid19

Four innovative and committed agroecology initiatives showed how they stepped up in times of Covid19 at a webinar organised by Forum Synergies and ARC2020 last week. And dozens, from all over Europe and beyond, got involved in the conversation. Alison Brogan tells us about this event which provided a moment to reflect, some key contemporary learnings, and which sowed the seeds of further action. […]