The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called for the recommendations of the Food Vision Tillage Group report to be implemented by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.

The Food Vision Tillage Group was set up by Minister McConalogue in May 2023 to set out a roadmap for the growth and development of the sector between now and 2030.

Speaking following the publication of the group’s report today (Tuesday, May 14), IFA Grain Committee chair Kieran McEvoy has said that the release of the report is “welcome, nearly one year since the process started”.

“It’s vital that actions identified in the report are implemented swiftly to prevent terminal damage to the tillage sector,” he added.

“Tillage farmers have faced a perfect storm since summer 2023, with falling grain prices; input costs remaining high; loss of rented land; and heavy rainfall right up until the middle of April this year.

“Thankfully, the weather has improved in recent weeks, but the delay in planting this spring will hit tillage incomes hard in 2024.”

The IFA chair has said that while the government has pledged to support the tillage sector, actions speak louder than words, and has urged the department to financially support growers.

IFA had previously proposed a €250/ha, five-year payment for tillage farmers.

“The €100/ha tillage payment announced by Minister McConalogue in March is a step forward in addressing the need for immediate financial support for the sector in 2024, but details on the scheme must be agreed and finalised by the department urgently,” McEvoy continued.

“It is welcome to see the report identify the urgent need for actions to drive preferential use of native feed grains and facilitate the movement of organic manure onto tillage farms.”

Minister on tillage group report

Meanwhile, Minister McConalogue has said the report published today is quite detailed and comprehensive.

He has tasked his officials with putting a plan in place to oversee the implementation of the strategy.

“[It] identifies opportunities that will improve the efficiency and long-term competitiveness of the sector along with actions that will allow the sector to further improve its environmental footprint,” the minister said.

The report has recommended that an immediate financial support package be put in place for the sector for the 2024 growing season. This is one of 28 recommendations outlined in the report.

Minister McConalogue said: “I would like to thank the members of the group for their work in compiling the report over the last 12 months.

“A vibrant and sustainable tillage sector is hugely important in increasing our food and feed security while also contributing to our climate change objectives.

“I am very aware of the challenges faced by tillage growers this year, and in response I announced last month my commitment to seek a €100/ha payment for field crops planted for this year’s harvest.

“I am committed to the sector and its importance within the wider agricultural industry, and I want to put the sector on a firm footing into the future,” he concluded.