IFA National Grain Chairman Liam Dunne said the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has to urgently convene a National Tillage Forum including key industry stakeholders to devise an action plan to address the serious and deepening income crisis in the tillage sector.
Liam Dunne said, “Harvest 2016 is proving to be another very financially challenging year for the majority of growers as it is the fourth consecutive year of low prices. Difficult harvest weather, reduced yields and crop losses have further compounded the income situation, knocking an estimated €100m off growers’ bottom line. Cereal production forecast for 2016 is estimated at 2.15m tonnes, almost 0.5m tonnes below last season’s record of 2.63m tonnes. Since 2012, the Irish cereal production area has fallen in excess of 100,000ac and this trend is set to continue”.
“Without political intervention, Ireland’s tillage sector is in imminent danger of collapse, with major implications for the entire livestock sector and our world-renowned drinks industry. I am calling on the Minister to immediately convene a meeting of a National Tillage Forum of key stakeholders to devise an action plan to address the serious crisis in the sector.”
Across the country, 10% to 15% of the harvest remains to be cut. The worst affected areas of the country are the North West, West, North West midlands, South West and coastal areas in East Cork right down into West Cork. In Donegal, 55% to 60% of the cereal harvest remains to be cut. Ground conditions have deteriorated rapidly and some fields may not be harvested this stage.
In Galway and Roscommon, 30% to 35% remains to be cut with a similar situation in Kerry and across into West Cork. Limited progress was made on the harvest over the weekend with poor weather impeding progress in western counties, parts of the midlands and also along coastal areas in East and West Cork.
Overripe crops are breaking down badly with full heads on the ground. Incessant heavy rains have flattened many crops into the ground and there is limited chance that these will be harvested unless there is a dramatic improvement in weather. Much of this year’s straw remains to baled for the later harvested crop. This has resulted in the limited availability of feed quality straw and prices have started to lift in recent weeks.
Liam Dunne said “Already many farmers are talking of further reducing cereal crop sowings for the 2017 harvest as prices are forecast to remain significantly below the cost of production. The cereal area could conceivably reduce by up to a further 10% (67,000ac) for the coming season which would see the lowest area on record of just over 600,000ac. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in prices, Irish cereal production faces an uncertain future”.