Calls for support for Irish grain amidst drought conditions

The continuing drought is having a severe impact on the tillage sector.

The Irish Farmers’s Association’s (IFA’s) grain chairperson, Mark Browne released a statement today, June 16, describing the effect of drought on crops.

Browne commented that recent rains have been too little too late for many crops and how many growers will have significant yield reductions while in other situations, entire crops are a write-off.

He stated: “The situation is particularly critical right up through the midlands and into the east and north-east where growers, in some cases, have practically closed the gates on crops which may not be worth harvesting.”

Straw supply

He noted that the reduction in winter crop plantings, which may be greater than 40%, as well as the recent dry conditions are sure to result in a decrease in straw supply.

It is estimated that barley straw availability will reduce by 300,000t and wheaten straw by 200,000t compared to last year. This is almost a 50% reduction in supply.

The grain chairperson called on merchants and feed mills “to prioritise Irish grain and pay sustainable grain prices to Irish tillage farmers”.

Maize imports

He also emphasised the importance of using Irish grain and stated that the importation of “cheap maize” is compounding the current situation.

Browne stated: “Quality assured Irish grain must not continue to be dictated by the price of third-country feedstuffs, which do not conform to the regulatory and environmental standards, demanded by the EU Commission and the Irish Government.”

“The Farm to Fork Strategy element of the European Green Deal is aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly.

There is nothing fair about targets in the Green Deal which will increase the regulatory burden and undermine local tillage framers while continuing to allow access to non-EU feedstuffs produced to different standards.

New Government must support the tillage sector

He called on the new Government to support the tillage sector.

“They cannot ignore the strategic importance of the sector to the broader agricultural industry, and the critical role native grains play in Ireland’s food provenance credentials, in addition to its low carbon footprint.

“Irish tillage farmers were disproportionately affected by the current CAP due to convergence and greening measures; therefore, any further reduction in supports or increased regulation under CAP 2020 cannot be tolerated,” he concluded.