‘Tillage farmers are scraping together every penny to pay their bills’

Most tillage farmers will be digging into their Basic Payment to pay their bills following poor harvest conditions this year, according to a spokesperson for the Irish Grain Growers Association (IGGA).

With the average income of tillage farmers set to drop by €14,000 this year, farmers will struggle to pay bills this year, he said.

“There is a good demand for straw, everything is more or less spoken for. There are very few farmers who are chopping straw to plough back into the ground.

Farmers need the money from the bales this year, and they are scraping together every penny to pay their bills.

Tillage farmers across Ireland are hoping for a change in the weather to continue with the harvest, with 1000’s of acres yet to be cut across the country.

“The weather has seriously affected the harvest this year, farmers in the south, especially along the south coast in Cork, Kerry and Wexford are under serious pressure while there are also issues in the west and northeast,” the IGGA spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, he said that yields have been very variable this year with spring barley ranging from 2.4 to 3.2t to the acre.

Early indications prior to the recent bad weather that yields of wheat and oil-seed rape were close to normal levels, according to the IGGA.

“The poor weather and tough prices this year has placed tillage farmers in a tough position, with some farmers deciding to cut back on the amount of crops they sow next year.

“Some tillage farmers will be seriously considering reducing acreage in 2017, especially those with mixed farms.

“Crops of malting barley have been poor in 2016, with crops failing by over 50% in some cases.”

Sowing malting barley is seriously under review, with the trouble seen this year farmers may decide to sow winter crops to produce quantity rather than quality in 2017.

While the IGGA realise the value of both the export and import markets, they want to encourage merchants to purchase Irish grown grain in support of tillage of farmers in such a tough financial year.