IFA Grain Committee Chairman Mark Browne said that Irish tillage farmers are furious over the continued failure of many animal feed merchants to use local barley. “Many growers are left with stores full of barley due to the importation of feed ingredients,” he said.
According to figures from Eurostat, Ireland imported 157,000 tonnes of non-EU maize in January alone, with Canada, Ukraine and Russia the main sources of the product. Mark Browne said if even a fraction of these imports was reduced in favour of native Irish barley, it would alleviate the immediate problem.
“It is inexcusable that merchants would ship feed ingredients half way around the world and not buy Irish grain which is on their own doorstep. Farmers are incensed that these non-EU countries, which do not have equivalent standards to Irish grain in relation to sustainability, the environment, GMOs etc., yet they have displaced native barley in livestock rations,” he said.
The IFA Grain Chairman said at this stage it was time to examine the specifics of the sustainability schemes operating across the Irish agriculture sector, in relation to the use of Irish grain.
For instance, Origin Green which is Ireland’s food and drink sustainability programme, proclaims the importance of local sustainable sourcing; reducing the carbon footprint; and serving local communities. Mark Browne questioned if shunning Irish barley in favour of importing maize produced to lower environmental standards, over vast distances, was compatible with the sustainability principles of the programme.
He concluded by emphasising that tillage farmers would not continue to tolerate this undermining of the Irish cereal sector. He called on all stakeholders in the animal feed sector, including the government and Bord Bia, to address the issue immediately by supporting the inclusion of local grain in feed rations.