‘€154/t malting barley price is a disgrace’

A malting barley price of €154/t is an absolute disgrace given that Irish alcohol beverages are now being marketed at premium prices on a global scale.

This is according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

The Irish drinks industry must strongly favour Irish cereals and pay a price that reflects the high value of branded Irish alcoholic beverages, ICSA General Secretary Eddie Punch outlined.

The association indicated that if the drinks sector doesn’t support a viable cereals sector in Ireland, then in the longer term they will be selling a complete deception to international consumers as more and more of the raw materials are imported.

The ICSA also outlined at the tillage forum organised by the Minister for Agriculture that the sector needs some support.

Just like the cattle and sheep sectors, tillage farmers are right to be furious that only dairy farmers seem to merit emergency Brussels funds.

The situation is now critical in terms of crop loss due to bad weather. Even in eastern counties, this week will see crops harvested at a drop in yield of 30% and quality will be back.

The situation is even worse in the west of the country and without support many of these farmers will be forced out of tillage, the association said.

The ICSA wants to see a national agriculture strategy that is focused on balance between the sectors, and balance between supply and demand.

The current strategy has been dairy expansion at the expense of all else, without regard for how this will help dairy farmers or the impact on other sectors, according to the ICSA.

Meanwhile, the association also insisted that there was no fairness in keeping tillage farmers out of TAMS and that support for GPS precision systems and storage and drying facilities was vital.

These supports could help in cost reduction and also create options in terms of farm to farm trade for grains, the ICSA outlined.

ICSA does not believe that cheap rations which include poorer quality imported ingredients at the expense of Irish cereal growers does any good for the Irish livestock sector.

“In fact, cheap cereals always leads to lower livestock and dairy prices on international markets,” the farmers’ association also said.

However, the ICSA also warned that supervision of imports compared poorly with the amount of regulation of Irish farmers, and warned of the risks posed by traces of black grass and sterile brome in imports.

On the other hand, the ICSA also claimed that any increased taxes on either white or green diesel would be a spectacular own goal by the Minister.

Talk of increasing white diesel price is madness in terms of making straw even more expensive to transport to the west and it also makes the export of pig slurry and chicken manure less competitive even though this is vital for the environment.

It is also instructive to note that the carbon tax on green diesel is adding €5,000 to the fuel costs of a cereal farmer with around 400 acres, it says.

The ICSA also argued that the tillage sector needs better solutions to deliver low-cost interest loans and a determination to find solutions to debt problems.