Pat Cleary, a committee member of the Irish Grain Growers’ Group (IGGG), has confirmed that tillage farmers have had a good year.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Co. Laois, he said that green grain prices had settled at around €300/t.

“This is a reasonable price. But growers have been working with the spectre of volatility haunting them for the entire 2022 growing season,” Cleary said.

“And this threat looks likely to take on an even greater significance in 2023. No one knows how Vladimir Putin [Russian president] will react over the coming months.

“The fertiliser market is totally unpredictable at the present time. Buyers are happy to forward quote for oilseed rape at the present time, but not for cereals.”

The IGG representative believes there is significant scope to expand the footprint of Irish tillage.

Tillage farmers and livestock farming

Hand-in-hand with this will come a greater level of cooperation between tillage and livestock farmers.

“But the grain sector needs additional government support. And this needs to happen now,” Cleary continued.

An underlying trend of the commentary given by Cleary was the need for livestock farmers to realise the quality of home-grown grain, relative to imported cereals.

“All Irish-grown grain is produced to a farm quality assured standard. The same cannot be said for imports,” he said.

Cleary was a member of a discussion panel, which had been brought together to discuss the ways in which greater levels of cooperation can be effected between the tillage and livestock sectors.

Added value

Looking to the future, he said that tillage farmers must continue to add value to the grains they produce.

“Oilseed rape and beans should be regarded in this context. Their intense flowering nature ticks many boxes from a biodiversity point of view. They are also tremendous break crops within every rotation,” Cleary explained.

One proposed development debated by the members of by the IGGG discussion panel was the need for Ireland to have its own oilseed rape crushing facility.

This year will see Ireland’s rape acreage exceeding 20,000ha. This represents a doubling of the sector’s size over the past five years. The residue oilseed rape cake has a very high protein content and would be in strong demand within the livestock sector.  

Also discussed was the lack of recognition given to the tillage sector by the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) measures.

Specifically highlighted was the restriction on the grazing of catch crops until the beginning of January. It was felt this requirement would be totally off-putting for grain farmers.