Opinion

What ever happened to the tillage forum?

With all the talk of the beef forum last week, has the department forgotten about the tillage forum? The last time the tillage forum took place was February 2017.

This year has been an extremely difficult one for all farming sectors; the tillage sector is no exception to this. While others may look in and see high grain and straw prices, this is simply due to supply and demand.

Tillage farmers will get paid a higher price for their produce this year, but they have less produce to sell.

The point of these forums should not be to fix a crisis and put a plaster on a problem that will fall off. These forums should be ongoing and should be planning a future for the industries involved.

I was lucky enough to attend the last tillage forum as a member of Macra na Feirme. It was extremely positive to see all sections of the industry represented and in a room hearing each other’s point-of-view and concerns.

And it was extremely important for the minister and Government officials to learn what’s going on in the sector.

At present, the tillage sector faces challenges from all angles, including: the extreme weather conditions; the importation of foreign grain (which is priced more competitively than native); and the reduction in the chemical toolbox. The list goes on.

If the forums continued on a regular basis, these challenges – which members of the sectors face everyday – might not come as a surprise to the Government and might not require a quick-fix solution.

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