‘Irish grain left in sheds’: Buyer preference for imports called out

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been called on to explain to tillage farmers why ship loads of grain and lorry loads of feed are allowed to arrive into the country while Irish grain is left sitting in sheds, unused by merchants and millers by the Irish Grain Growers’ Group (IGGG).

The group has described as “totally unacceptable” moves by the department to support such actions, when grain prices have collapsed in the past six months by approximately 25%.

“To compound the situation the Department of Agriculture has been subsidising the transport of imported feed while Irish grain sits in sheds,” the organisation said in a statement.

Raising questions on what impact this will have on the straw market for 2019, the group claimed that farmers with grain in stores are being forced to “practically beg” merchants and millers to take grain to alleviate cash flow.

Describing recent ‘harvest 2019’ merchant prices as “hard to stomach”, the IGGG has warned that sheds of grain are beginning to “make farmers nervous” for next harvest.

Stating that the cost of growing spring crops are up on 2018 figures by approximately €30/ac, the group has called on the minister and his department to prioritise Irish grain into the future, adding that, after three fodder crises in two years, tillage farmers are incredulous at the current buyer preference for imported grain.

“In a recent report it stated that approx two thirds of this grain is of GMO origin,” the IGGG claimed.

The department must insist on change to other farming sectors; they cannot be seen as a safety net that can be called upon on a regular basis – they cannot keep opening the floodgates every time there is a fodder crisis.

The area under tillage is predicted to be down significantly again in 2019, the group concluded, adding that the department “should be part of the solution – not part of the problem for tillage farmers”.