Urgent Political Intervention Needed To Avert Collapse Of Tillage Sector
Ahead of the main harvest, IFA National Grain Chairman Liam Dunne has warned that grain farmers are facing a severe income drop this season of up to €100m due to a combination of poorer prices and much reduced yields.
Liam Dunne said without political intervention on a number of fronts, the tillage sector here was in imminent danger of collapse, with major implications for the entire livestock sector and our world-renowned drinks industry. He called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to immediately convene a meeting of all stakeholders to secure a commitment from them to use native grains and support the industry.
Mr Dunne identified the following measures as crucial to the survival of a central element of our farming system:
- Abolition of tariffs and anti-dumping duties on fertiliser imports as fertilisers now account for 40% of variable production costs;
- Review by the EU Competition Authority of the cost of plant protection products which are priced significantly lower to growers in other regions across the world;
- Priority access to low-cost working capital similar to their EU counterparts;
- Increased Glas payments;
- Extension of protein crop area to allow coupled payment;
- TAMS investment programme; and a
- Reduction in the burden of compliance for Greening.
“The EU Commission and the Government cannot continue to ignore the gravity of the deepening income crisis on many tillage farms after four consecutive years of low grain prices below the cost of production, increasing costs and reducing Direct/Greening Payments.”
The IFA National Grain Chairman said, “Grain farmers are very angry at the standard of the samples of imported barley that have been tested, having been taken from the lorry that was filled from the boat they witnessed unloading in Foynes earlier this week. Based on a number of samples obtained and analysed by trade buyers, the bushel weight varied from 60kph to 61kph, with screenings running from 9% up”.
Liam Dunne said, “The industry norm for traded dried barley, either native or imported, is 62kph, with many end users insisting on a minimum of 62.5kph to 63kph. The more reputable compound feed mill buyers are very rigid in implementing industry standards, rejecting loads that may be borderline even at 62kph. In years where bushel weights are an industry wide issue some of the mills will refuse to entertain loads that do not meet the standard, while other buyers will insist on significant discounts. It is unusual for grain that does not meet the required standard to be offloaded unless the quality issue was flagged at the point of sale. In some instances boats that fail to meet a basic quality spec will be turned back”.
While the overall Irish harvest is expected to be back by 600,000t on last year, there are ample supplies of new season barley available, currently estimated at in excess of 400,000. This is expected to rise to 1.3mt by harvest close, in addition to adequate supplies of old crop barley.
Liam Dunne said, “Livestock farmers are fully behind their fellow farmers who produce grain and will be insisting on the maximum levels of native grain in rations this winter. IFA will be keeping a vigilant watch on the quality of ration on offer to our farmers this coming season. We recently launched a feed ration of all Irish grains, which has been strongly endorsed by IFA Livestock Chairman Angus Woods, IFA Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary, IFA Pigs Chairman Pat O’Flaherty, IFA Sheep Chairman John Lynskey and IFA Poultry Chairman Nigel Renaghan”.
Liam Dunne said, “The Irish cereal sector is in danger of falling into terminal decline unless immediate and decisive action is taken to reverse the dramatic fall in incomes. Since 2012, the Irish cereal area has fallen by over 100,000ac and this trend will accelerate unless there is a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for grain growers”.