The continuing rise in input costs on Irish farms is making the case for a move to a more sustainable farming model, according to an Irish MEP.
On a visit to the Síolta Chroi organic farm near Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Chris MacManus said the increases are outside the control of farmers but are having a big impact on overall production costs.
“Fertiliser prices are up over 30% and energy prices are up 22%, since September 2020,” MacManus stated.
The Midlands-NorthWest MEP believes that farmers should take the significant jump in input costs as the impetus to change production methods.
“Taking fertiliser firstly, Teagasc advises a number of ways to reduce costs, such as replacing the first application with water slurry or the implementation of white clover.
“On some dairy farms, white clover has resulted in savings between €2,000 and €4,000,“ MacManus said.
The MEP said microgeneration of energy on farms needs to be finalised.
“Farms could be producing their own energy and selling surpluses back to the grid. You are really talking about micro-solar PV, micro-hydro, micro-wind and microrenewable combined heat and power (CHP).
“In 2018, Ireland ranked 23rd out of the EU-27 countries for renewable energy from agriculture, producing just 2.6% compared with the EU-27 average of 12.1%, “ MacManus said.
The MEP said farmers are still waiting for the Microgeneration Support Scheme to be opened.
“It is evident that the solutions are there and it makes economic sense to make the transition now. What farmers need is strong leadership from this government.
“This government must understand that every delay, in times of high prices, means farmers being pushed closer to a cliff edge,” he said.
“In no other economic sector would it be common that only one third of enterprises are considered viable.”
The Sinn Féin MEP has also called for an increase in supports for sustainable organic farming models, similar to the Síolta Chroi enterprise.