Angry tillage farmers protest in Drogheda over grain imports

Farmers held a protest in Drogheda today over the continued importation of grain and poor prices for cereals this summer.

Speaking at the protest IFA President Joe Healy said farmers are extremely angry that brokers are continuing to import barley, undermining the Irish grain sector, at a time when incomes are on the floor and the sector is in serious danger of collapse.

The IFA President said the ongoing unnecessary importation of grain in preference to quality local supplies is aggravating an already serious income crisis on Irish tillage farms.

This, combined with a lack of political will to address the problems faced by grain producers, poses a serious threat to grain production in this country, he said.

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“Grain farmers are extremely angry that some traders and brokers are importing grain when plentiful supplies of quality native grain are available.

“They are also frustrated at the failure of the EU Commission and the Government to recognise and take action on the unprecedented income crisis facing farmers.

24/08/2016 – Gardaí approach protesting IFA grain growers at Drogheda Port. Photo: Andy Spearman.
Gardaí approach protesting IFA grain growers at Drogheda Port. Photo: Andy Spearman.

“The future of grain farming in Ireland is at stake, with current price offers for new crop grain significantly below the cost of production, which is estimated at €145-150/tonne this harvest,” Joe Healy said.

Meanwhile, IFA National Grain Committee Chairman Liam Dunne said, brokers typically use the threat of imports to undermine local prices in an effort to gain market share and boost their own earnings.

24/08/2016 – Gardaí talking with protesting IFA grain growers at Drogheda Port. Photo: Andy Spearman.
Gardaí talking with protesting IFA grain growers at Drogheda Port. Photo: Andy Spearman.

“While the overall Irish harvest is expected to be back by 500,000 tonnes on last year, there are ample supplies of new season grain available, currently estimated at in excess of 1.2m tonnes. This is expected to rise to 2m tonnes by harvest close.”

Dunne said, the Irish cereal sector is in danger of falling into terminal decline unless all stakeholders support growers and immediate and decisive action is taken to reverse the dramatic fall in incomes.

24/08/2016 - IFA grain growers protesting at Drogheda Port. Photo: Andy Spearman.
IFA grain growers protesting at Drogheda Port. Photo: Andy Spearman.

“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. Irresponsible actions by the brokers/importers will accelerate the sector’s demise to the detriment of Ireland’s livestock industry”.

IFA protest at Drogheda port over unnecessary grain imports while growers' livelihoods are on the line 18

Along with support from the trade, Dunne identified the following political measures crucial to the survival of tillage farming:

  • 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.