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BovINE making an impact – the farmer view (An interview with John Dunne)

BovINE making an impact – the farmer view (An interview with John Dunne)

John Dunne runs a suckler to beef production grassland farm selling steers and heifers at under 24 months of age on approx. 120ha of good quality land in Co Laois. In this short interview with Kevin Kinsella, Irish BovINE Network manager, John gives his views and insights into the BovINE project

Why did you get involved with the BovINE Project?

I have a keen interest in technology and development on the farm and I got involved with the BovINE project through the IFA (Irish Farmers Association) in year 1 (2020). I participated by submitting and facilitating a good practice report on the Teagasc e-profit monitoring under the economic sustainability theme. With Teagasc and the IFA involved and an EU wide focus, I considered this a good partnership and was anxious to get involved from a learning viewpoint.

What has been your experiences of the BovINE project so far?

Very positive. I found the virtual on-line meetings, during Covid19 very positive and was encouraged by the positivity of fellow farmers, advisers and researchers working in the beef sector. While there is no silver bullet solution to the economic challenges facing beef farming, I was encouraged by the work and efforts going into the development and application of new technology. This is particularly the case on environmental sustainability and the climate change challenges.

I am very concerned about the direction of EU agricultural policy going forward especially the on-going erosion of direct payments under CAP reforms and the damaging impact on beef farm incomes. Politicians and policy makers are ignoring the fact that beef farming is much more dependent of direct payments that other farming sectors.

What impact has the BovINE project had on you?

In general, the BovINE impacts have been positive. I enjoy listening to like-minded positive people and find their input both encouraging and inspiring.  

At the moment we are faced with very severe inflation especially on energy and fertiliser prices and costs. These costs increase have the potential to seriously damage farm incomes in 2022 and beef farming has no surplus to be able to accommodate this. I am hoping that some of the economic sustainability tasks identified from the National meeting in 2021 can help us as farmers to reduce the impact of costs increases in 2022 and future years.

To sum up your experiences of the BovINE Project

So far, the experience with the BovINE project has been positive. Good ideas coming through on technology and other areas like climate change. I see great potential in technology in the area of electronic tagging and weighing in the future and also on labour saving methods to make life easier. On animal health and welfare, I am working with faecal egg counting and trying to reduce anthelmintic resistance. On environmental challenges, I am hoping that BovINE can get the real science and facts out there as a lot of the debate is currently very infected with misinformation. Also, we need simple tools to enable farmers to measure and get rewarded for climate positive initiatives on our farms like sequestration.

What would you like BovINE to do going forward?

I think joined-up thinking across EU member states has major potential. As farmers, advisors and researchers we could achieve so much more working together in the EU and BovINE provides an ideal hub to facilitate this.

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is working with Teagasc to form a national beef network to identify Irish beef farmers’ priority needs, identify good practices, and facilitate knowledge exchange between farmers and researchers in Ireland and between Irish and other European farmers trans-nationally. 

Further Information: 

John Dunne is a farmer participant in the Future Beef Programme. You can learn more about his farm at John Dunne

At the core of the BovINE project are comprehensive communication activities targeted at beef farmers across Europe. Join the mailing list for project news at bovine@minervacomms.net

Read more from Teagasc about BovINE  | For more information, please contact Professor Maeve Henchion (maeve.henchion@teagasc.ie) BovINE Co-ordinator or visit the project website

This article first appeared on the BovINE website  - see it here https://www.bovine-eu.net/bovine-making-an-impact-the-farmer-view/