Is convergence a driving force behind farmers leaving tillage?

Convergence may be one of the driving forces behind farmers leaving the tillage sector, according to Prof. Michael Wallace of the University College Dublin (UCD) who spoke at the Teagasc Crops Forum yesterday evening (September 17).

Wallace recently compiled a report entitled ‘An Economic Impact Assessment of the Tillage Sector in Ireland’ and stated that convergence is impacting on tillage farms more than any other sector.

He stated: “The tillage sector has been particularly adversely impacted by convergence, because prior to convergence the average entitlement values in tillage were the highest among all the sectors.

“I think the average for tillage was about €381/ha, but of course there are farmers that would have had higher values than that, particularly where they had stacked entitlements.

I think it’s well acknowledged that tillage farmers have particularly borne the brunt of convergence more than any other sector in Irish agriculture.

While he couldn’t put exact figures on the impact the process was having on the sector, Wallace did state that convergence has had a severe impact on farm incomes and has influenced decisions about tillage area on farms and leaving the sector altogether.

“I don’t have a specific calculation on how much that has detrimentally impacted farm incomes, but by the nature of the fact that they’ve had the higher average entitlement values at the start, those effects have factored through.

“I think they have been one of the driving forces around farmers’ decisions that they’ve made, particularly in some cases reducing or getting out of tillage.”