It would be totally speculative to discuss the principle of additional support for tillage coming out of Budget 2024.

This is the view that has been strongly expressed Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon.

The Fine Gael TD attended the first day of the 2023 National Ploughing Championships today (Tuesday, September 19).

“I am aware that the initial report from the Food Vision Tillage Group is now on the desk of the farm minister,” he said.

“Fine Gael has long recognised the pivotal role played by the tillage sector within Irish agriculture. This will remain the case.”

Heydon confirmed the challenges facing tillage farmers at the present time – poor weather and challenging prices being two of these core issues.

“We know that the tillage sector will be at the heart of Ireland’s response to the nitrates challenge,” he said.

“For example, the scope to use more effective use of animal manures on tillage ground is significant.

“Fine Gael has worked actively with the dairy, beef and sheep sectors in the past. We will take the same approach, where tillage is concerned.

“Fine Gael has played a key role in supporting agriculture as whole while in government over the past 10 years.”

Heydon was joined at the Ploughing event by enterprise minister, Simon Coveney.

Coveney played down any suggestion that independent rural TDs can deliver real change for rural Ireland.

“There is ample evidence to show that a concerted party approach works. Fine Gael is part of the largest political grouping in the European Union,” he said.

“Independent politicians cannot deliver this level of influence with key decision makers.

“Fine Gael was born out of rural Ireland,” he added.

With regard to the ongoing debate regarding Ireland’s nitrate derogation, Coveney confirmed that European Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius would be invited to Ireland by An Taoiseach.

“The visit will provide the commissioner with a clear opportunity to speak to Irish farmers and to see, at firsthand, what is happening on the ground in this country,” he said.

“Ireland has a unique farm structure. It is vitally important for Brussels to fully recognise this fact.”