Tillage farmers are losing out the tune of €21 million per year, as a result of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan.

The figure has been calculated by the Irish Grain Growers’ Group (IGGG).

Chair of the IGGG, Bobby Miller, said: “The average reduction in CAP support per farm works out at €3,000. And there are approximately 7,000 tillage farm businesses officially recognised by the Department of Agriculture [Food and the Marine].”

IGGG said that it recognises that little can be done now to directly change the new support arrangements, although the organisation did lobby to have Ireland’s tillage area ring-fenced as part of the new CAP measures.

Tillage farmers and CAP

On the issue of having the actual value of tillage farmers’ entitlements ring-fenced, IGGG representatives have purportedly been told by government officials that such a development could not take place on competition grounds.

IGGG said it will be lobbying to have the government to actively address the issues relating to the shortfall in CAP support now facing grain growers and other arable farmers.

“But we must also look to the future. Discussions on the shape of CAP beyond 2028 will commence later this year,” Miller continued.

“And IGGG will be heavily involved with these developments from the get-go.”

Attending the Irish Grain Growers’ Group regional meeting in north Co. Dublin earlier this week, (L-R): Shane Kennedy, Teagasc Drogheda; Conor O’Callaghan, Teagasc Drogheda; Bobby Miller, chairman Irish Grain Growers’ Group and John Brophy, Teagasc Drogheda

Home-grown grain

Promoting the low carbon footprint of home-grown grain, relative to imports, will be another priority for IGGG during the period ahead.

Committee member Ollie Whyte spoke on this point at a regional meeting held in north Co. Dublin earlier this week.

“No differentiation is made in the marketplace between imported cereals and Irish grain,” he said.

“The reality here is that imports have a carbon footprint 30 times the value of local produce. Consumers must be made aware of this fundamental fact.

“If Irish dairy farmers want to reduce the carbon footprint of their businesses, it would make perfect sense for them to source home-grown feed,” he added.

Solar impact on tillage

Turning to the issue of food versus energy security, Whyte indicated that too many solar farms are now being established on some of the best tillage land in the country.

“Marginal land should be used for these projects. This would allow tillage land to be prioritised for the production of food,” Whyte added.

“There’s plenty of land available in the country to allow the best balance to be struck between food and energy production.”