Monthly Members' Newsletter of the National Rural Network - February 2017
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Connecting Communities

growing our future 

February 2017

Welcome to the eleventh issue of the NRN's monthly newsletter and the first for 2017. This is the newsletter for members of the NRN. The goal of the National Rural Network (NRN) 2016-2020 is to inform the broader public and potential beneficiaries about rural development policy and funding opportunities. For more see
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Nationwide Expand Your Horizon Seminars Up and Running

Rural Information and Networking

Expand Your Horizons LogoThe National Rural Network (NRN) and Teagasc are currently engaged in the delivery of a series of 28 events across the country. The central focus of these events is to provide information and networking opportunities for rural dwellers who wish to explore new possibilities for improved economic and social development for their own lives and for the betterment of their community.

A number of locally relevant organisations and agencies have a presence at these events including Local Action Groups, Local Enterprise Offices, Teagasc, the NRN, Money Advice and Budgeting Service, Education and Training Boards, Citizens Information, Mental Health Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Fisheries Ireland. (Source: NRN)

The seminar series has particular relevance for those interested in diversifying their farm income, considering a new on-farm or off-farm enterprises, retraining for a new job or applying for funding opportunities under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

Expand Your Horizons seminars have already been held in Dungarvan, Dunmanway, Mallow, Ennis, Maam Cross, Killarney, Adare, Portlaoise, Naas, Navan and Dundalk. The seminars will continue to run until the end of March Upcoming seminars are listed in the forthcoming events section below.

Sheep Welfare Scheme Closed for Applications

Farmer Schemes and Payments

Sheep in field, Crossmolina, Co. MayoOn 3rd February 2017, the Sheep Welfare Scheme closed to eligible sheep farmers following its extension due to the high number of applications. The Sheep Welfare Scheme will provide funding of up to €25 million for Irish sheep farmers in 2017 and provide support of €10 per ewe to farmers for undertaking actions which make a positive contribution to flock welfare. 

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine held a series of well attended information seminars through the country which provided farmers with the relevant information and allowed them to have any queries answered. The Department will confirm acceptance of application allowing chosen actions to commence in the upcoming weeks. 

The actions must be completed within a 12 month timeframe. The actions for the scheme are outlined below. Farmers who have signed up for the scheme selected one action from Category A plus one action from Category B. Payments will based on the completion of both actions.

Lowland Flock Hill Flock
Category A Category A
Lameness Control Mineral  Supplementation (Ewes post mating)
Mineral Supplementation (Ewes post mating) Meal Feeding (Lambs post weaning)
Category B Category B
Parasite Control (Faecal Egg Count) Parasite Control (Faecal Egg Count)
Scanning Scanning
Flystrike Control Mineral Supplementation (Lambs Preweaning)

More information about the Sheep Welfare Scheme is available here. (Source: DAFM)

TAMS Update

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes

DAFM LogoTAMS II is open for applications in rolling three month tranches. All applications received in a given tranche must be checked to ensure that all administrative issues are in order. Once this process is complete, a ranking and selection is carried out and all eligible applications within the available tranche budget are sent to the local office for final technical appraisal before approvals issue. It should be noted that the submission of an application to the TAMS II scheme does not mean automatic approval. This process is currently underway for applications received in Tranche 5.  

Approvals are issuing on an on-going basis, with over 6417 applications now approved. The online payment claim system opened in July 2016 and payments for approved investments continue to issue on an on-going basis with payments in 550 cases issued to date. A large number of payment claims submitted have minor issues that need to be resolved before payment can be made. Department officials are in direct contact with individual farmers to progress claims towards early payment

Please see below breakdown of approvals and payment claims for each of the 6 schemes.  “Claims finalised” refers to valid payment claims received.

Scheme (Tranche 1-5) Approved Claims Finalised Payments made
AWNSS Proposal 1965 159 78
DES Proposal 2064 411 275
LESS Proposal 556 93 66
OCIS Proposal 333 62 24
PPIS Proposal 86 4 1
YFCIS Proposal 1413 173 106
Total 6417 902 550

More information about TAMS II is available here. (Source: DAFM)

Shining a Light on Climate Change

Climate Change and Agriculture

Cattle eating grass in a fieldThe NRN in collaboration with Teagasc and the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) recently hosted a number of networking sessions for advisors. In addition to meeting their colleagues, the sessions focused on important RDP issues such as climate change.  Professor Tommy Boland of UCD gave a lively and Informative presentation on climate change. There are dilemmas and complications, he pointed out, with no simple fixes but much can be achieved through cooperation.

To set the scene, he pointed out that Ireland exports food and drink products to 180 countries around the world. The exports are worth over 11 billion euro, making agriculture a dynamic driver of the Irish economy and employment.  However, agriculture produces over 30% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions which contributes to climate change, with energy, transport, industries and homes being the other big contributors. 

The dilemma put simply is that while the land could be used to grow cereals which people can consume, Ireland’s climate and soils are ideal for grass production. We cannot digest grass but ruminants can and neatly convert the grass to meat and dairy products which provide important nutrients not easily provided by plant-based sources. As incomes improve, the worldwide demand for animal proteins will continue to increase. This creates big opportunities for sustainable grass-fed meat and dairy products if we can manage the greenhouse gases.

Professor Boland is optimistic that we can. Already Ireland is among the most efficient in the world in terms of greenhouse gases per kg of food sold. Farmers have shown an ability and willingness to adopt new technology and better methods to reduce emissions. The future lies in cooperation with the industry, adopting best practice at every level to become truly a world leader, he concluded. The presentation by Professor Boland can be viewed here. (Source: NRN)

Bee Friendly Farming - Ireland’s Pollinator Plan

Biodiversity and Agriculture

Bee on a flowerThe NRN in collaboration with Teagasc and the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) recently hosted a number of networking sessions for advisors. In addition to meeting their colleagues, the sessions focused on important RDP issues such as climate change and biodiversity.

Dr Erin Jo Tiedeken, Project Officer for the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, from the National Biodiversity Data Centre gave a presentation on the challenges faced by bees. Dr. Tiedeken gave a stark message that one third of our 98 bee species are threatened with extinction. The All Ireland Pollinator Plan is a strategy to address the decline in pollinators. It contains 81 actions to make Ireland more pollinator friendly. Bees are an important component of biodiversity. Pollination is important to the economy, health and wellbeing, and wildlife and landscape.

The plan identifies actions that can be taken on farmland and public land to protect pollinators. These include making farmland more pollinator friendly by managing existing hedgerows for pollinators, and protecting existing flower rich natural and semi-natural habitats and these activities are supported through a number of actions within the Green Low-carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS).. The National Biodiversity Centre is currently drafting Pollinator-friendly guidelines for farmland. Draft guidelines are currently being prepared for public consultation. It is envisaged the guidelines will be published in Spring/Summer 2017. For more information on the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, visit  (Source: NRN)

Public consultation on the Common Agricultural Policy launched

Future of Food and Farming in Europe

European Union FlagThe European Commission launched the first phase of the modernisation and simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with the opening of a three-month public consultation on February 2nd 2017. 

Announcing the consultation process, EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: "Today we are taking the next steps towards modernising and simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy for the 21st Century. By launching this public consultation, we are asking all stakeholders and those interested in the future of food and farming in Europe to participate in shaping a policy for all the people of Europe.

This public consultation feeds directly into the roadmap for the Future Common Agricultural Policy announced by President Juncker in December. The Common Agricultural Policy is already delivering major benefits for every European citizen, in terms of food security, the vitality of rural areas, the rural environment and the contribution to the climate change challenge. By designing a roadmap for the future, I am confident it can deliver even more. But we must refine it, and revitalise it, and – of course – we must adequately fund it."

It is widely believed that the modernisation of CAP will have a strong emphasis on the environment and climate change. A large proportion of the overall EU budget is allocated to CAP. Therefore CAP must deliver environmental public goods such as biodiversity, high quality water and climate mitigation, while also providing food security. 

It is very important that farmers contribute to the public consultation and have their say in relation to their position on CAP and what changes they believe are necessary. 

The results of the public consultation will be published online and presented by Commissioner Hogan at a conference in Brussels in July 2017. (Source: European Commission)

Social Hubs in Rural Europe 

ENRD Workshop on Social Inclusion

SECAD Images and LEADER logoIreland was well represented at the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD), Social Hubs in Rural Europe event in Brussels on the 9th February 2017,  by both the National Rural Network and the Local Action Group from South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD).  

Ryan Howard, CEO of SECAD, led an excellent hub on ‘Youth in Rural Areas’, with assistance from his team, Nuala O'Connell, Denis Ring and Cork student, Katelyn Leady. SECAD provided information on admirable rural youth initiatives carried out in County Cork: SECAD Youth Mental Health Review – Understanding Youth Needs; development of a youth-led in-door development centre called ‘My Place’ in Midleton and Animating Youth – Cork Film Makers. 

The hub, ‘The Role of Women in Rural Areas’ was led by Dr. Maura Farrell and assisted by Marta Rosa, Copa Cogeca and Eamon McMullan, Northern Ireland Rural Network.  The session provided an overview of women in rural areas, focusing specifically on the innovative, entrepreneurial and business practices of women in agriculture and rural areas.  Excellent examples were provided by Ailbhe Gerrard, Brookfield Farm, Co. Tipperary (www.Brookfield.Farm), who participated in the ACORNS project in 2014 ( and has an array of successful on-farm projects, including her handmade beeswax candles.  Corine Fleuren founder of Mini Apple Trees ( in the Netherlands also told her story of female entrepreneurship, displaying some of her products during the Hub and Open Space session in the afternoon.  A highly successful event, which raised the profile of women entrepreneurs in rural areas but also what the Rural Development Programme can do to assist the advancement of women in business both on-farm and off-farm in rural areas.         

To find out more about both Hubs and the overall event log onto:

(Source: NRN)

LEADER Cooperation Partnership Search

LEADER Cooperation


Derrymore House, NewryMourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership are looking to identify a co-operation partner in Ireland to develop links between Derrymore House and other historical sites with a view to creating relevant cultural and heritage partnerships to encourage greater footfall between the two (or more) sites in a cross border partnership.  

Derrymore House and Demesne was historically a private residence and not open to the public.  Its last private owners were the Richardson family, whose family owned the Demesne from 1859, and who also owned the linen mill in Bessbrook.  National Trust are the current owners of Derrymore House and Estate, having been donated by John Richardson in 1952.  

Derrymore Demesne is located in Bessbrook, Co Armagh, approximately 3 miles from the City of Newry.  It was opened by The National Trust in 1957 to the local population and visitors for recreational use.  It is an ‘admission free‘ Demesne, comprising of 110 acres, which includes 43 acres of parkland, 30 acres of mature woodland, 25 acres of agricultural land, and ten buildings, four of which are listed, the focus of which is Derrymore House.

Also located within the Demesne is a walled garden, and a modified Early Christian-period ring-fort which was later adapted as a garden feature. The house and its surroundings have unique historical significance. 

For any queries relating to this potential cooperation project, please contact or Eamon Mc Mullan

(Source: Mourne, Gullion and Lecale Rural Development Partnership)

Award winning Cheese is LEADER in the field: Milk at dawn and cheese at dusk 

LEADER Best Practice: Farm Diversification

Jim O'BrienFor O’Brien's Artisan Farmhouse Cheese, the relationship between farmer and herd has led to an innovation in farm diversification. 

Jim O’Brien, in his boyhood days, watched his father fetch his cows for quiet, pre-dawn milking. O’Brien’s cheese represents a devotion to this simple, ritualistic way of life. Some 40 years later, Jim still delights in the rhythm of the twilight milking and the quiet hours spent slowly mixing and warming it until it reaches the rich, golden consistency that characterises the delicious flavour of O’Brien’s cheese. 

The O' Brien's dairy farm is located in Ballyhahill, Co Limerick. Over the last 5 years Jim's goal has been to add value to their milk by diversifying into cheese production. His son James looks after the day to day running of the farm while Jim and his wife Marie look after the cheese. A true artisan product; the milking parlour is less than 20 metres from the cheese factory. The O’Brien Artisan Farmhouse Cheese is now available in several Super Valu stores across Ireland. The brand also recently won the “2016 Listowel Food Fair National Kerrygold Cheese Competition”.

The role of LEADER funding has been instrumental to the success of the business. Jim has long recognised the importance of LEADER funding, having also benefited from the programme when creating self-catering accommodation many years previous. “I would like to recognise the great support from Leader and West Limerick Resources because without their financial backing and mentoring guidance we would not have been able to move forward in producing the product”. 

Diversification for Jim O’Brien allowed them to create extra employment on site, which they hope to increase in the coming years. "It was during the tough years of the recession that we decided to make cheese. My son John lost his job as an electrical engineer in Ireland … and was forced to move to Australia ... At that stage we started to look at options to bring John back to Ireland and to the family farming business here in Limerick. We wanted to add value to the existing milk business here on the farm and we wanted to create another full time job for a member of our family”. For more information visit: 

(Source: LEADER)

History and High Tea at Glencar

LEADER Best Practice 

Glencar Teashed SignageThe Tea Shed at Glencar Waterfall was opened by Jonathan and Helen Hay in May 2015. Glencar Waterfall is 50 foot high and is situated in Glencar Lough and served as an inspiration for William Butler Yeats and features in his poem 'The Stolen Child’. Helen Hay is a member of the Siberry farm household who owns the land around the waterfall. Helen’s original farm household also sits on the site where, in the late 1800's to early 1900's, a tea house already existed, run by Helen's great aunts. 

The Hays received funding for the construction costs of the development. This work included the building of a forty seat tea room, capable of catering for coach tours, associated retail areas, kitchen, stores and tourist information area. Externally, the facility is clad in timber and incorporates a grass roof to help integrate the building into the landscape. Local produce is used and sold within the tea rooms, offering items such as soup, sandwiches, hot food, tray bakes/sweets, coffee and tea, with areas for local arts, crafts and specialty food. The facility caters for the hill walking community, families and visitors to the waterfall. A play facility is available to cater for younger children. The Tea Shed now offers a relaxing retreat for refreshments following a visit to the magnificent Glencar Waterfall in Co. Leitrim.

The facilitating factor that enabled this project to happen was primarily a good relationship with the Local Authority in the development of the facility. Leitrim County Council were well aware of the need for refreshment facilities at the waterfall and were open to exploring Jonathan’s ideas. The design concept of this project was very innovative. The proposed development is based on a traditional vernacular farmyard design but with a modern twist. Sustainability was always at the forefront of the design.  The internationally recognised passive house approach was used in the construction of the entire development.  

Leitrim has experienced a drastic decline in population recently, it is significant to see the LEADER programme helping to bring back those who have left in the past and allow them to create a sustainable future for their families in the county.

For more information: 

(Source: LEADER)

Forthcoming Events

CalendarUCD School of Agriculture & Food Science Research Seminar Series, 'Farm Afforestation in Ireland', G08 Agriculture and Food Science Centre UCD. 22 February 1pm
As part of the 2016-17 School of Agriculture & Food Science Research Seminar Series, Associate Professor Áine Ní Dhubháin, UCD Forestry, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, will present a seminar entitled "Farm Afforestation in Ireland".

ENRD Workshop, 'Extending LEADER Cooperation, Brussels. 22 February.
The workshop will focus on the different ways in which Local Action Groups (LAGs) and other actors can strengthen and improve LEADER’s contribution to rural innovation at local, regional, national and EU levels.

Teagasc and NRN, Expand Your Horizons Rural Information and Networking Seminars Upcoming Dates (all 8-10pm)
20 Feb. Teagasc Office, Dundalk, Co. Louth. Contact:
22 Feb. Balla Resource Centre, Balla, Co. Mayo. Contact:
22 Feb. Abbey Hotel, Roscommon. Contact:
23 Feb. Longford Arms Hotel, Longford. Contact:
27 Feb. Sligo Park Hotel, Sligo. Contact:
28 Feb. Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. Contact:
01 Mar. Illa Rose Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal. Contact:
02 Mar. Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. Contact:
06 Mar. Anner Hotel, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Contact:
07 Mar. Tullamore Court Hotel, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Contact:
08 Mar. Kilmore Hotel, Cavan. Contact:
09 Mar. Four Season's Hotel, Monaghan. Contact:
13 Mar. Riverside Hotel, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. Contact:
14 Mar. Lawless Hotel, Aughrim, Co. Wicklow. Contact:
15 Mar. Dolmen Hotel, Carlow.Contact:
22 Mar. Springhill Court Hotel, Kilkenny. Contact:
Members of the NRN Team
The National Rural Network (NRN) Consortium Coordination Group: (standing) Philip Farrelly, Maria Pettit, Johnny Sheehan, Seamus Boland (Project Director), Dr. Therese Conway and James Claffey; (seated) Dr. Maura Farrell, Deirdre Garvey and Freda Salley. For more information, visit

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