Over a 10% drop in area of land under potatoes last year

The area under potatoes has decreased by 10.4% to 8,200ha last year, according to new figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The figures for June 2018 that were released yesterday, Wednesday, April 17, also show that the overall area under cereals decreased by a total of 10,800ha, a reduction of 4% when compared to June 2017.

The area used for cereal production in Ireland last year stood at 261,600ha.

According to the CSO, this was mainly due to a decrease of 9,100ha, or a reduction of 13.5%, in the area under wheat.

Furthermore, the area under winter barley noticed a decrease of 7,200ha – or 11.0% of the total area.

The area of land under oats was down by a substantial 27.3% or 6,700ha of levels grown in 2017.

However, the area under spring barley increased by 12,200ha or 10.6%, according to the figures.

Farmer fury

The figures have been released following it being outlined that Irish tillage farmers are “furious” over the lack of local barley used by animal feed merchants here, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The association’s Grain Committee chairman Mark Browne said that the importation of feed ingredients is resulting in growers being left with stores full of barley.

He added that if “even a fraction” of Ireland’s current maize imports from non-EU countries were reduced in favour of Irish barley, this would alleviate the problem.

It is inexcusable that merchants would ship feed ingredients halfway around the world and not buy Irish grain which is on their own doorstep.