Speaking following an IFA grain growers protest in Foynes port in Limerick on Tuesday, IFA National Grain Chairman Liam Dunne said grain farmers are extremely angry that some traders and brokers have sourced imported barley when plentiful supplies of quality native grain are available.
Liam Dunne said, “Grain farmers are frustrated at the failure of the EU Commission and the Government here to recognise and take action on the unprecedented income crisis facing farmers as they head into the 4th consecutive year of low grain prices and income losses”.
He said, “The future of grain farming in Ireland is at stake, with current price offers for new crop grain significantly below the cost of production. Over the last four years the area sown to cereals has fallen by over 100,000ac and this trend will accelerate unless there is a rapid improvement in the income situation”. He said grain growers need a base price of €135 per tonne this harvest to earn a reasonable standard of living and ensure the survival of the industry.
The IFA National Grain Chairman said, “Grain farmers are very angry at the standard of the samples of imported barley that have been tested, having been taken from the lorry that was filled from the boat they witnessed unloading in Foynes. Based on a number of samples obtained and analysed by trade buyers, the bushel weight varied from 60kph to 61kph, with screenings running from 9% up”.
Liam Dunne said, “The industry norm for traded dried barley, either native or imported, is 62kph, with many end users insisting on a minimum of 62.5kph to 63kph. The more reputable compound feed mill buyers are very rigid in implementing industry standards, rejecting loads that may be borderline even at 62kph. In years where bushel weights are an industry wide issue some of the mills will refuse to entertain loads that do not meet the standard, while other buyers will insist on significant discounts. It is unusual for grain that does not meet the required standard to be offloaded unless the quality issue was flagged at the point of sale. In some instances boats that fail to meet a basic quality spec will be turned back”.
IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy said, “Livestock farmers are fully behind their fellow farmers who produce grain and will be insisting on the maximum levels of native grain in rations this winter. IFA will be keeping a vigilant watch on the quality of ration being offered to our farmers this coming season. We recently launched a feed ration of all Irish grains, which has been strongly endorsed by IFA Livestock Chairman Angus Woods, IFA Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary, IFA Pigs Chairman Pat O’Flaherty, IFA Sheep Chairman John Lynskey and IFA Poultry Chairman Nigel Renaghan”.
Liam Dunne said, “The National Grain Committee along with grain farmers are currently meeting with the grain trade demanding increased prices to ensure farmers can earn a reasonable living, and full support for Irish grain farmers.”
The IFA Grain Chairman said, “The EU Commission must move to abolish anti-dumping and customs duties on non-EU fertiliser imports as fertilisers now account for 40% of variable production costs. The EU must also examine the cost of approved plant protection products which are priced significantly lower to growers in other major grain producing regions across the world”.
“In addition, the Government must ensure that tillage farmers are given priority access to low-cost working capital similar to their EU counterparts; increased GLAS payments; a TAMS investment programme; and the burden of compliance for Greening reduced.”