‘The tillage sector needs some support or it may well disappear’

The tillage sector needs some support or it may well disappear, according to IFA Grain Committee Chairman Liam Dunne.

Dunne was speaking ahead of the National Tillage Forum which is scheduled to go ahead today, February 16.

He hopes that a tillage crisis fund and TAMS scheme for tillage farmers will be top of the agenda and that announcements will be made on both issues at the forum.

Tillage farmers need some good news and they need it badly.

The IFA hopes that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, will make an announcement on the tillage crisis fund, that would help farmers who suffered significant crop losses in 2016.

“The average loss of crops was close to 60%, which is very high. Some farmers may have lost as little as 20%, but in some cases it was closer to 100%.

“These people need support and they need it now. We would hope that the payments would be proportional to do the losses that farmers suffered,” Dunne said.

Some of these farmers may already have crops in the ground, but still have to pay the input costs, he added.

“Getting crops in the ground is the relatively easy part. The difficult part is growing and managing the crops throughout the year.

“A promise is good, but now we need some actions put in place to help these farmers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dunne is also hoping that a decision will be announced on the TAMS scheme for tillage farmers today.

“Farmers may already have decisions made or plans in place for investments in machinery that they need for 2017.

A decision on TAMS is needed, with the current tranche set to close on April 7, so farmers know where they stand.

Some actions have been put in place to support tillage farmers by Minister Creed, but more needs to be done, the IFA Grain Committee Chairman said.

The tillage sector has been neglected to a certain degree when compared with the attention that the other farming sectors have received over the past couple of months, he added.

“It’s time for the sector to get some recognition or it may well disappear altogether.

“Today, we would hope, is the start of an action plan that will increase confidence in the sector, which is very low at the moment,” Dunne said.