‘Tillage farmers can fill a major gap in the fodder deficit’

“There is a critical need for extra fodder” – those were the words of Mark Browne, the IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) Grain Committee chairman, who has called on tillage farmers to think strongly about sowing forage crops this season.

Speaking to AgriLand, the Co. Wexford native was worried about the slow uptake on the fodder production incentive and stated that the department has allocated €2.75 million to the scheme and it needs to be used.

“Some farmers have sown these crops already, while others have started to talk about sowing in the last few days; they’ve got straw baled and cleared.

We need to push it on because there is a critical need for this extra fodder.

“There is going to be a major fodder crisis and we as tillage farmers have to do our bit.”

Positive move from the department

Mark went on to say that the incentive by the department is a positive move and he hopes that tillage farmers will react positively to it.

“The department is being supportive of the tillage sector; we met with the minister and he wants a vibrant sector and this is a way of helping the tillage farmer in a particularly bad year,” he explained.

The cost

Teagasc estimates the cost of growing these crops (from establishment to baling or grazing) at approximately €704.5/ha for ryegrasses and €440/ha for brassicas.

The money allocated to these crops in the incentive is €155/ha for short-rotation grasses and €100/ha for catch crops such as fodder rape or stubble turnips.

“Farmers will get paid for doing a little bit of work. The money is an incentive. Tillage farmers will also be paid for their produce. They will fill a major gap in the fodder deficit.

GLAS

“The department has acknowledged that we are a vulnerable sector and the minister is doing what he can to help us at present. The department realises the need for a tillage sector in this country.

The minister has put the money on the table and the sector needs to step up and give the minister confidence in tillage farmers. We want to get that money spent on tillage farms.

While the IFA has been calling for fodder to be imported to the country, it is important to note that if tillage farmers here sow these crops, less grain and straw will need to be imported.

Harvest update

Mark explained what the situation is like on the ground at present, while price has increased this season it will not account for the low yields in many cases.

“Yields are low. Feed prices are high and the price of malting barley needs to rise. If we are going to have a tillage industry in this country growers will have to be looked after for next year.

“Straw isn’t available. Prices are good, but there’s no straw. In many cases, farmers are only getting four round bales per acre and two big square bales per acre.

With basic payment included this year tillage farmers might break even, but the majority won’t be making a profit.