35% of tillage farmers ‘fearful for the future’ of their sector

A total of 35% of tillage farmers are ‘fearful for the future’ of the tillage sector, according to the results of a survey by the Irish Grain Growers Association.

Another 33% said that they were not optimistic about the future of the sector while only 9% said there were optimistic about it.

The association released the results of its survey to Agriland ahead of its AGM which will be held in the Clanard Court Hotel in Athy, Co. Kildare on November 16.

A spokesperson for the association said that the overall, the results of the survey were “so negative” for the Irish tillage sector.

“Responses to the survey that stand out were the negative responses to Government action and what lobby groups are doing,” the spokesperson said.

The survey found that over 85% of farmers were dissatisfied with the current representation from farming bodies for the tillage sector.

Another 50% of farmers responded that the effort to date of the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, was ‘very poor’ and 41% found the Minister’s effort to be ‘poor’.

Meanwhile, a third of tillage farmers who responded to the survey said that they will be growing less acreage of crops in 2017.

This is a concern. If the price of milk goes over 30c/L tillage farmers won’t be able to compete with leasing land with the dairy farmers who themselves have been quiet this year due to poor prices.

“The push may be back on in 2017 for expansion in the dairy sector and with low prices and less acreage, tillage farmers won’t be able to compete,” he said.

On the issue of machinery rings, where farmers come together and list the services they can provide to other farmers and what services they need themselves, just 30% of farmers said they see a future for them.

Over 50% of respondents said that they would be interested in joining or investing in a local tillage based co-op or purchasing/selling group.

A question on joining the Irish Grain Growers Association, which is aimed solely at representing those in the tillage sector, saw 54% of respondents say that they would be in favour of joining.

Sugar beet industry

A total of 50% of tillage farmers would be in favour of the return of the sugar beet industry, according to the survey.

A further 35% said that they would need further details of what exactly a return to beet would mean for the sector.

On this issue, the spokesperson said that such details would be investment costs for farmers should the industry return.

GMOs

The association also included a question on genetically modified crops in Ireland and if farmers would be in favour of growing them in Ireland.

There was a mixture of responses to the question, with 33% saying they were in favour of growing them, 34% said they would not be in favour of growing them and 33% said that they were unsure.

In response to these results, a debate at national level is needed on the growing of genetically modified crops in Ireland, the spokesperson said.