Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue is still “considering” the recommendations contained in a report by the Food Vision Tillage Group, aimed at securing a viable future for the sector.

In response to a parliamentary question from independent TD for Laois Offaly, Carol Nolan, the minister confirmed that Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) officials regularly meet farmer representative groups in relation to the issues and challenges being experienced by tillage growers.

“As well as this engagement, I personally am in contact with the farm organisations directly myself by phone, at meetings and other events regularly and this will continue as long as I am minister,” McConalogue stated.

“I am acutely aware of the challenges being experienced by growers due to the exceptional weather conditions.

“The past few months have been very challenging for tillage farmers. Thankfully the weather has improved, and tillage farmers are getting an opportunity to sow crops and to catch up on the backlog of work.”

Tillage support

The agriculture minister outlined to Deputy Nolan that he had recently announced a €100/ha payment for every farmer that puts seed in the soil for the harvest year 2024.

He stated:

“I am committed to increasing our tillage area and despite the constraints of my existing budget, I will work to deliver this support for tillage farmers.”

According to Minister McConalogue, significant and additional support was provided to the tillage sector last year in light of the challenges that growers faced.

Payments under the Protein Aid Scheme totalled over €10.1 million. The Straw Incorporation Measure provided €16.5 million for tillage farmers while the Tillage Incentive Scheme provided €8.3 million in expenditure.

“Furthermore, I secured €7.147 million from the EU Agricultural Reserve to support the tillage sector last year and this was topped up with a further €7.147 million in state funding,” the minister added.

“These funds were paid out in January 2024, to support growers with unharvested crops by way of an Unharvested Crop Support Scheme with the remaining funds being used as a once-off flat rate payment on the area of oilseed rape and cereal crops.”

The minister acknowledged that the crops sector is an important and integral component of the agri-food industry indicating that it is a sector he wants to see grow.

“That is why I established the Food Vision Tillage Group in May 2023 to set out a roadmap for the sustainable growth and development of the sector to 400,000ha by 2030,” McConalogue said.

“I recently received the final report from the group, and I am considering its recommendations.”