Industry must support growers to pull through difficult year

 

McGuiness bros
McGuinness Bros Richardstown, Co Louth cutting cassia barley near Ardee on 19 July, yielding 3.7t/acre and bushelling 67kph

IFA National Grain Committee Chairman Liam Dunne said that the industry must support growers to get through what is a very challenging financial year as grain price offers of €140/t for green barley (excl. vat) are significantly below the cost of production and will leave many growers facing a negative income scenario.

Mr. Dunne said, “Input prices need to be realigned to reflect the significant fall in value of grain over the last two harvests. The viability of Irish grain production is in question due to the relentless increase in costs over the last few years coupled with significantly reduced grain prices for the 2013 and 2014 harvests. Over the last decade there has been very substantial increase in input costs particularly for fertiliser, seed and fuel. Fertiliser prices alone have increased by a massive 260% while fuel prices have gone up by over 200%.

“Variable production costs (including machinery hire) for spring barley have gone from €640/ha (excluding vat) in 2003 to approximately €1,000/ha today while grain prices are falling. Production costs for other arable crops have followed a similar pattern. This relentless cost price squeeze coupled with the impending reduction in growers’ Single Farm Payment, additional compliance costs due to CAP reform proposals and extreme price volatility threatens the future viability of Irish grain production. Changing weather patterns have also increased the challenge to growers as evidenced in 2009 and 2012.”

Liam Dunne said: “Marginal returns coupled with weather related production risks and increasingly complex compliance rules under the new CAP will force many growers to reconsider their enterprise choice. The industry, if for nothing else other than self-interest, must support growers to get through what is a very challenging financial year.”

Safety

With the harvest underway, Liam Dunne is also urging farmers to be extremely careful, especially when transporting grain on public roads.

“Farmers need to be safety conscious at all times, but especially when using farm machinery on public roads. Check machinery in advance and make sure all those in charge of farm vehicles are all experienced drivers.”

He stressed the harvest can be challenging and farmers should avoid risks on the road: “Understandably, farmers will be anxious to get as much done as possible during the busy harvest season, but it is important to remember that danger could literally be around the next corner. Any mishap will be very expensive in terms of time and money and could cause a serious accident or injury. Farmers and their contractors have a special responsibility when putting tractors and other large machinery on the public road. Never take the risk with other people’s lives and your own livelihood.”

Courtesy pays huge benefits, the IFA Chairman, said as he urged farmers to be mindful of other road users. “Allow other vehicles to pass whenever possible and be careful of speed in urban areas, narrow roads and uneven surfaces. Respect other road users at all times.”

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