As harvest 2020 progresses, IFA President Tim Cullinan has called on all stakeholders to support the Irish tillage sector.
“The sector contributes over €500m of farm gate value to the rural economy. It is of critical strategic importance to Ireland’s €13 bn livestock, dairy, food, drinks and mushroom export sectors,” he said.
According to the Teagasc National Farm Survey, tillage farm incomes fell by 15% in 2019 compared to 2018.
“This season tillage farmers have already endured a difficult winter followed by drought conditions in late spring which will have a negative impact on yield. The trade must return sustainable prices to grain farmers this harvest to prevent a further drop in farm income,” he said.
The area of Irish grain production is down 17% from 2012.
“There is a significant opportunity to increase this area to supply the expanding animal feed, drink and food sectors. However, Irish grain producers must be allowed to compete on a level playing field with imports. They must have access to a full range of plant protection products and new breeding techniques for the sector to thrive and expand, “he said.
The IFA President called on livestock farmers to maximise their use of Irish grain.
“Some feed merchants are producing rations which contain little or no Irish grain. The trade must promote the use of native cereals to support the sector,” he said.
“The tillage sector is heavily dependent on CAP payments. The recent EU decision to reduce the allocation for CAP by 9% at constant prices, will have serious consequences for the sector unless the Government comes forward with significant co-financing to protect payments,” he said.
Finally, the IFA President urged all farmers and contractors to put a renewed focus on farm safety this harvest.
“This time of year can be particularly stressful on tillage farms. However, it is vital to identify the risks before you undertake your work and ensure anyone working on your farm does the same,” he said.