IFA calls on farmers and merchants to use Irish grain

The president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Tim Cullinan, has called on all stakeholders to support the Irish tillage sector this season.

He emphasised the importance of the sector to the Irish economy, while adding that it needs support to continue.

“The sector contributes over €500 million of farm-gate value to the rural economy. It is of critical strategic importance to Ireland’s €13 billion livestock, dairy, food, drinks and mushroom export sectors,” he said.

The IFA statement commented on data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey which showed that tillage farm incomes fell by 15% in 2019 compared to 2018 and noted that this season has been particularly challenging.

“This season tillage farmers have already endured a difficult winter followed by drought conditions in late spring which will have a negative impact on yield.

The trade must return sustainable prices to grain farmers this harvest to prevent a further drop in farm income.

Decline in tillage area

The president noted that the area of land dedicated to Irish grain production has declined by 17% since 2012 and added that there are more opportunities out there to use this grain.

There is a significant opportunity to increase this area to supply the expanding animal feed, drink and food sectors.

“However, Irish grain producers must be allowed to compete on a level playing field with imports. They must have access to a full range of plant protection products and new breeding techniques for the sector to thrive and expand, “he said.

The president called on livestock farmers to maximise their use of Irish grain.

Some feed merchants are producing rations which contain little or no Irish grain. The trade must promote the use of native cereals to support the sector.

He also added that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments need to be protected.

“The tillage sector is heavily dependent on CAP payments. The recent EU decision to reduce the allocation for CAP by 9% at constant prices will have serious consequences for the sector unless the government comes forward with significant co-financing to protect payments,” he commented.

Farm safety

Very importantly it is farm safety week and the IFA president asked all farmers and contractors to put a renewed focus on farm safety this harvest.

“This time of year can be particularly stressful on tillage farms. However, it is vital to identify the risks before you undertake your work and ensure anyone working on your farm does the same,” he concluded.