Practical Solutions & Maximum Flexibilities Needed Urgently on Catch Crops – IFA

IFA President Tim Cullinan has called on Minister McConalogue to quickly introduce practical solutions and clarify why unworkable Department catch-crop growing requirements are being introduced and rolled out without consultation or proper communication with farmers.

“It’s another solo run by the Department. We’re being told that these new rules are being introduced on the planting and management of catch crops to comply with new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) conditionality measures, but nowhere within the Commission agreed CAP Strategic Plan is there any reference to an equivalent lie-back area, or the need for it to be in grass,” Tim Cullinan said.

“The CAP strategic plan only outlines the need for an ‘adequate lie-back area’. We need clarity and common sense here. Allocating half the growing area to lie-back that can only be in grass is absolutely way too excessive, and will make the growing of catch crops – something which the Department advocate – uneconomic and unworkable for specialist tillage growers,” he said.

“It will undoubtedly have a massive impact on the store-lamb trade too with farmers who have always purchased store lambs now saying they will not be able to do so because of these new regulations. These are two sectors already experiencing huge financial pressure at the minute,” he added.

“Many farmers who applied for ACRES selected the catch crop option too. There are about 22,000 hectares involved overall, and with a sowing deadline of September 15th and all research advocating the benefits of early crop sowing, undoubtedly many will have crops in the ground,” the IFA President said.

“These farmers are now left in limbo trying to figure out how they are going to both comply with the ACRES measure, graze these crops, and also comply with new unworkable Department regulations,’ continued the President. “Farmers fell like they are being regulated out of existence that this stage,” he concluded.

IFA National Grain Committee Chair Kieran McEvoy said he inundated with queries from farmers who have already planted crops, and those wondering what to do next. ‘

“There are a lot of tillage farmers who have harvested their main crops now wondering where they stand with the growing of catch or cover crops. Theres as many again that have catch crops already in the ground, long before these requirements came to light. We need clarity quickly here, and workable solutions,” Kieran McEvoy said.

“Allocating 50% to a lie-back area will just make the growing of catch crops a non-runner. The Minister also needs to give assurances there will be no conditionality implications for farmers who already have crops in the ground. You can’t change the rules without at least properly telling farmers you plan on doing it,” he added.  

IFA National Sheep Committee Chair Kevin Comiskey has called for swift action to be taken by the Department.

“There are huge numbers of sheep farmers, particularly those finishing store-lambs, who are dependent on catch crops and longstanding collaborative arrangements with tillage farmers. This uncertainty is creating turmoil out there,” Kevin Comiskey said.

“We need clarity and some resolution on the issue sooner rather than later. The sheep trade is already on its knees and there is growing concerns and frustration among farmers. We don’t need any more, particularly self-inflicted, pressures on the sector,” he said.

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