IFA President Joe Healy has said it is incumbent on Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed to secure an aid package for tillage growers who suffered unprecedented crop losses this harvest due to unusually wet weather.
Joe Healy said, “The 2016 harvest has proved to be one of the most difficult in living memory for many tillage farmers operating essentially west of a line from south of Cork City to Donegal. Crop losses in these areas ranged from 25-50%, with some individual fields effectively a 100% write-off. Straw is a valuable by-product and growers suffered losses in excess of 50%.
“Tillage farmers are resilient and are well used to dealing with the vagaries of Irish weather and the toll that it can take on crops. However, the 2016 harvest has been outside the norm with incessant rain, high relative humidity and a lingering sea mist in coastal areas of Cork and Kerry. Met Éireann data for September shows that the number of wet days and rain days for September exceeded 20 days. This left it impossible to harvest crops. Crops that were harvested during this period were cut at extremely high moisture content and this has created further difficulties for co-ops and grain merchants.
“Many of these tillage farmers are facing extreme financial hardship, such is the scale of crop loss in these regions. In a survey conducted by IFA’s National Grain Committee it is estimated that approximately 380 farming up to 5,000 ha suffered significant crop losses.
Approximately 380 farmers & up to 5,000 ha affected
Crop losses have ranged from 25-50%
Some individual fields are effectively a 100% write-off
Straw losses in excess of 50%.
“The supply of locally produced grain and straw in these peripheral regions is crucial in maintaining competition in a market dominated by the compound feed trade. In addition, the straw produced is a valuable alternative fodder source, while tillage crops provide much needed biodiversity in these predominantly permanent grassland areas.
“When you grow a grain crop you are committed to spending in excess of €1,100/ha on inputs and tillage operations. This has a significant spin off into the local economy. Many of the affected growers now have significant bills for the supply of inputs and materials with co-ops, agri-merchants, machinery dealers, fuel suppliers etc. but they are not in a position to pay them. The Minister, as a matter of urgency, must put in place an aid package for the small number of growers affected, such is the scale of financial losses that they face.”