Grain growers letter to IFA/Irish Farmers Journal January 2016

Here is the full letter the 223 Cork grain growers wrote to the IFA/Irish Farmers Journal in January 2016.

From: Cork Central Grain Growers

I.F.A/I.F.J abandons Tillage Farmers

Dear Editor,

We are writing this open letter to you to express our total disappointment at the lack of support from I.F.A/I.F.J, Bluebell, Dublin, for tillage farmers. We would like to acknowledge the support of Cork Central I.F.A officers who are endeavouring to highlight our plight as well as Mr. Andy Doyle, Tillage correspondent with the I.F.J

Ever since the closure of the sugar beet industry in 2006 in which I.F.A/I.F.J played a hugely misleading and inaccurate role in encouraging beet growers to exit the industry. There appears to be a total lack of support coming from I.F.A/I.F.J for tillage farmers. Promises were made then by the I.F.A of an exciting new energy industry if growers would accept the compensation package. Two such meetings were held in Cork in May and October 2006. Where is this alternative industry?

This is the third year of record low cereal prices. In the seventies, we received prices of £135.00 per ton. 35 years on we are now receiving similar prices in euros with a deafening silence coming from the Farm Centre on this issue.

But what has really angered tillage farmers is the announcement earlier this year of the TAMS II scheme where €400 million was to be granted for the agri sector with not one cent allocated for tillage farmers. €200 million was allocated for young dairy farmers.

How should a young tillage farmer feel when his next door neighbour, a dairy farmer is grant aided to a level of 60% while he, the tillage farmer gets nothing. This is blatant discrimination and puts the young tillage farmer at an uncompetitive disadvantage in his farming enterprise. This was strongly lobbied for by the I.F.A and there wasn’t a word of disapproval coming from the I.F.J. It was only after tillage farmers in Cork rebelled at the injustice that was being done, did I.F.A take on board their concerns. This was confirmed to us by politicians from all parties as well as Department officials, who told us that I.F.A had not lobbied for tillage farmers to be included in the scheme.

We also have the Dairy aid package, this, just 4 months after the I.F.A celebrated the end of quotas, Need I remind you that tillage farmers have just finished their 3rd year of record low prices. Where is our tillage aid package?

Tillage farmers bore the brunt of the additional restrictions of the 2014 CAP reform. E.g. 3 crop rule and greening. Also, we have to upgrade our sprayers and chemical storage facilities, and we are now faced with modernising our trailers to RSA standards. Will we be grant aided for incurring these costs? We have also seen another submission from the I.F.A. on the potential for greenhouse gas mitigations and again, no mention of tillage farmers

Tillage farmers like all other sectors have a right to be fairly represented by the I.F.A but it appears that there is an unfair balance coming from I.F.A/I.F.J, where is it virtually dominated by the dairy sector at the exclusion of the other sectors. On the I.F.A website it is stated “IFA’s campaigns across all sectors and commodities are geared-up to accomplish our mission – to improve the incomes and conditions of all farm families.” We tell you now that has never been more false. To the I.F.A organisation if you don’t want to fairly represent us, at least have the decency to tell us and don’t collect our membership and levies, and hopefully, some other group will do a better job in representing the Arable sector.

To the editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, where the slogan is.

“Fearlessly on the side of the Farmer”

That phrase is quite true when it comes to dairying and to a lesser extent to beef but sadly, you have abandoned it when it comes to tillage farmers.