Speaking at a protest in Foynes Port, Co Limerick this morning, IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy said grain farmers were extremely angry at the importation of barley by a number of brokers/importers, whom he accused of aggravating an already serious income crisis on Irish tillage farmers as they source imported barley in preference to local supplies. He said this latest action, combined with a lack of political will to address the problems faced by grain producers, posed a serious threat to grain production in this country.
Richard Kennedy said, “Despite repeated warnings from IFA at several high-level meetings with the EU Commission and Irish Government, they have refused to acknowledge the gravity of the deepening income crisis on many tillage farms after four consecutive years of low grain prices below the cost of production, increasing costs and reducing Direct/Greening Payments”.
“The 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 Competition Authority must examine the cost of EU 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.”
IFA National Grain Committee Chairman Liam Dunne said, “Brokers are up to their old tricks of importing grain ahead of the main harvest. They typically use the threat of imports to undermine local prices in an effort to gain market share and boost their own earnings. In many instances, they import inferior quality barley which is high in screenings and borderline on bushel weight. Merchants and compound feed mills have been reluctant to quote farmers for their grain in recent days as brokers bypass the local trade and import grain, which in many instances is of inferior quality. While the overall Irish harvest is expected to be back by 600,000t on last year, there are ample supplies of new season barley available, currently estimated at in excess of 400,000. This is expected to rise to 1.3mt by harvest close, in addition to adequate supplies of old crop barley.”
Liam Dunne said, “The Irish cereal sector is in danger of falling into terminal decline unless immediate and decisive action is taken to reverse the dramatic fall in incomes. Since 2012, the Irish cereal area has fallen by over 100,000ac and this trend will accelerate unless there is a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for grain growers. Irresponsible actions by the brokers/importers will accelerate the sector’s demise to the detriment of Ireland’s livestock industry”.