Many tillage ‘farmers are at their wits end’

Many tillage farmers are at their wits and have not experienced conditions like this year since the mid-1980s, according to IFA President Joe Healy.

The IFA leader said it is critical that a financial rescue package is secured and put in place for these farmers, as a matter of urgency, given the dire financial straits they find themselves in through no fault of their own.

To resolve these issues, Healy set out an Action Plan for the survival of the tillage sector at the Tillage Forum in Dublin this afternoon.

For the sector at large, it is vitally important that we collectively devise an action plan to address the serious and deepening income crisis in the Irish tillage farming sector.

According to IFA, tillage farmers are facing an income collapse this year of up to €100m due to a combination of factors.

  • Grain production will be down between 500,000-600,000t on last harvest
  • Oilseed and protein crop yields are much reduced
  • Falling Greening/Basic Payments through convergence are reducing the direct payment
  • High input and working capital costs are aggravating this already serious income situation

IFA Grain Chairman Liam Dunne also said the stark reality is that the financial risk that farmers are carrying is becoming totally disproportionate to the possible gains.

Without political intervention on a number of fronts, Ireland’s tillage sector is in imminent danger of collapse, with major implications for the entire livestock sector and our world-renowned drinks industry.

And to save the tillage industry, IFA has proposed the implementation of six-point action plan.

IFA’s action plan for the Survival of the Tillage Sector

  1. Introduction of a specific financial rescue package for the tillage sector
  2. A derogation for Ireland on greening requirements, given our difficult climate conditions
  3. Access to competitively priced credit to help sustainability of all farmers including those under cash flow pressure
  4. Full support from all industry stakeholders for the use of native Irish grain
    • Mandatory Department inspection and screening of grain imports to exclude economically damaging weed seeds such as blackgrass and sterile brome
    • Establishment of a certification scheme to maximise the use of native grain and proteins in Irish livestock rations
    • Increased use of native grain and Irish malt in the production of Irish whiskies and artisan/craft beers to grow our malting barley sector
  5. Action by the European Union to lower input costs
    • Abolition of tariffs and anti-dumping duties on fertiliser imports
    • Review by DG Competition of the cost of plant protection products
  6. Stronger tillage sector support under Farm Schemes
    • Increased GLAS payments
    • Immediate roll out of the TAMS investment programme
    • Increased funding to allow for the expansion of the protein crop area eligible to receive the full coupled payment.