Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has said that he will not rule out anything in terms of what may be needed to support the tillage sector through the adverse weather.

The minister told a meeting of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee (NFFSC) today (Tuesday, April 9) that he is “closely monitoring” the situation facing farmers around the country.

“Every day that goes past raises the stakes, the challenge and the anxiety around what the planting season is going to hold,” he said.

McConalogue said he will be looking at the existing budget within his department to see what can be done as the situation evolves.

“What we’d all hope for is the weather to improve and for people to be able to get into the fields but that hasn’t happened so far.

“Certainly I’m not ruling anything out at all in relation to what may be necessary there.

“You’ll have heard both the Taoiseach and the minister for public expenditure that there isn’t any capacity or possibility of a mini budget or of fresh funding,” the minister added.

Multiple members of the committee urged the minister and the government to come forward with supports for the tillage farmers as they said that morale “has never been so low” in the sector.


Michael Hennessy, head of crops knowledge transfer at Teagasc, told the meeting that very little planting had been done over the past seven days.

He said that there had been “a small amount of ploughing, but nothing significant” carried out over the last week.

Hennessy said that medium to heavy ground will need at least 14 days of dry weather in order for work to be done.

“Ground needs not just to dry on top, it needs to soak from the underneath, it needs to drain basically,” he said.

Hennessy said that it could be the end of the month before any spring crops can be sown and at that stage crop choice will be specific to individual farms.

He said that farmers will have to sit down and compare the margins to spring barley which is the default for many.

On winter crops, the committee heard that many critical actions are not yet complete, including fertiliser and weed control, due to poor trafficability in fields.

Hennessy said that warmer weather forecast for later this week will drive growth, but ground conditions will still be poor.

Meanwhile, Louise Byrne, deputy chief inspector with DAFM, told the meeting that there has been some “teething issues” with the final report of the Food Vision Tillage Group.

Despite this, she said she was hopeful that the report could be presented to Minister McConalogue today.

“It is for the minister to consider the recommendations contained therein,” she said.

Byrne said it is very clear that supports are being sought for the tillage sector this year. She noted that “significant additional support” was provided to tillage farmers last year.