‘Irish farming needs balance between the livestock and tillage sectors’

Irish farming needs balance between the livestock and tillage sectors, according to the president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) Patrick Kent.

Kent made the comment as he called for the tillage forum to be reconvened at the earliest possible date.

The tillage sector in Ireland is in “dire straits“, after the second year of disastrous weather exposed the frailty of the sector, he said.

But there are serious long-term issues that need to be looked at urgently, Kent added.

Irish farming needs balance between the livestock and tillage sectors. This is painfully evident at the moment with livestock farmers in the west and border counties crying out for straw and feed.

“It is not good enough that farmers are openly contemplating having to import straw, silage and hay from outside the island of Ireland. It is not good enough that we have a huge protein deficit in animal feeds, not only in Ireland but in Europe.

“The loss of our sugar beet sector is still a huge problem, and there is a national failure to take this seriously,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kent believed that the malting sector is being ripped off by the “booming drinks industry”.

“Some of the players in the drinks sector like to market their ‘Irish image’, yet the Irish content in the ingredients is minimal.

Even where Irish product is used, the price paid does not compensate for the high standards required.

The president of the ICSA called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to put more focus on the tillage sector – otherwise, there will be no tillage in the vast majority of the country if it is not dealt with soon.

The depletion of the tillage sector would be a “devastating loss” to livestock farmers, Kent concluded.