Joe Healy – the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) – called on grain merchants, co-ops and compound feed mills to support tillage farmers with a strong grain price this harvest. Healy was speaking at the National Ploughing Championships on Thursday, September 19.
“It has been a difficult harvest in parts of the country. However, farmers persevered to produce excellent quality crops for the market,” he said.
While it is positive that the decline in the cereal area has stabilised, it is still the second lowest planted area on record, with a 20% reduction since 2012.
“In order to restore confidence in tillage farming, the trade must pay sustainable prices,” he said.
IFA grain chairman Mark Browne said: “Irish grain production has been undermined by the mass importation of grains from third countries, which are grown under different environmental and sustainability standards to Irish grain, at lower costs of production.
This grain is produced under regulations which allows the use of pesticides that are banned in Ireland.
The IFA noted in its statement that data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that Irish imports of GM maize have increased from 450,000t in 2012 to over 1.5 million tonnes in 2018.
Mark continued: “This is in stark contrast to the decline in native grain production during the same period. Substituting imports for Irish native grains leads to the loss of millions to the rural economy, and also undermines Ireland’s credentials in relation to Origin Green and our carbon footprint.”
Mark Browne concluded by saying: “That quality-assured Irish grain must trade at a premium, and its value cannot continue to be dictated by feed ingredients such as palm kernel from Malaysia or GM maize from Brazil, which do not conform to the regulatory and environmental standards demanded by the EU Commission and the Government.”