Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president, Tim Cullinan, has led a delegation from the National Grain Committee to meet Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to discuss the impact of the draft Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms on commercial tillage farmers in Ireland.

IFA Grain Committee chairman Mark Browne said: “There are over 4,500 specialist tillage farmers in the country and many of their incomes will be significantly reduced by the new CAP proposals.

“A tillage farmer with €400/ha entitlements will be at least €120/ha worse off by 2027 when eco-schemes, CRISS [Complementary Income Support for Sustainability] and convergence are factored in.”

The IFA has asked the minister to address this issue. The association said the minister acknowledged the difficulties facing many grain farmers in the coming years.

“The difficulties surrounding leased entitlements in the coming years were also highlighted to Minister McConalogue and his team,” Browne continued.

“Over 40% of the tillage area is on leased or rented lands and the sector must remain competitive in this land market.”

The delegation also raised the urgent need for a specialist tillage scheme with the minister to address the reduction in income that the IFA said will be faced by farmers in this sector from 2023.

“The Straw Incorporation Measure and a €7 million coupled Protein Aid fund are positive developments, but another scheme is required for the tillage sector,” Browne continued.

“The Ag Climatise 2030 document published by the government states the tillage area must be maintained, if not increased, but it’s difficult to see how this will be possible without further financial support to the sector,” he concluded.

Support for tillage sector

Earlier this month, Minister McConalogue said he believes in the long-term viability of the tillage sector and is convinced there is massive untapped potential within it.

“I am committed to supporting the growing of indigenous protein crops through the next CAP with a proposed increase in funding for the coupled voluntary protein aid scheme from the current €3 million per annum to €7 million per annum.

“Growing the area under protein crops is a win-win for our industry; it offers a support for tillage farmers and can play a huge role in reducing our dependence on imported crops.”