Cereal sector slump: 24% income fall a ‘standout figure’

The dramatic fall in income from the cereals sector of some 24% for 2019 was described as a stand-out figure for a sector in need of serious remedial action, according to director of Teagasc Prof. Gerry Boyle.

Speaking at the Teagasc Annual Review and Outlook for 2020, the Teagac director highlighted concern for the sector, which he said has been in trouble for some time.

Commenting during the questions and answers session at the report, Prof. Boyle said:

We have a sector which is in a very serious state for several years now; I know that the word ‘crisis’ is over-used but if there was ever an example of a sector that needs serious remedial action it’s the cereal sector.

“This year, for an income level to be down by 24% is really a standout figure,” Prof. Boyle said.

Also commenting on the matter, Teagasc tillage specialist Fiona Thorne highlighted that Irish trade is based on international happenings, adding:

“At the end of the day, what’s happening in the Irish cereals sector is that we’re trading at international prices and we’ve been doing that for a number of decades.

“So unfortunately it’s not within the Irish sector that we determine our price; we’re net importers of cereals so that’s what determines our price.

“There have been moves from certain merchants over the years to get collaboration going, between whether it’s a drystock farmer or a dairy farmer with the local cereal farmer.

But at the end of the day, as an economist might say, we trade at international market prices and it’s the price of the tonne of the grain when it’s landed in our port which determines our price unfortunately.

“What we’re looking at here for next year, over the next 10 years, if you look at whether FAPRI results, whether it’s European Commission results, very minimal price increases over that 10-year period is what you’re looking at.”

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