The first provisional DAFM BPS figures on the main cereal crop plantings indicate that they are similar to last year with only a 1% increase. As predicted the only real difference is a switch back to more Winter crops and an increase in the planting of oats which brings them back to the area of previous years.
The Irish market remains quiet due to the time of year. There will be a carryover of barley stocks going into the next harvest however the majority of the wheat should be cleared. Planting is virtually finished apart from a little maize and potato planting. In general crops look in good condition as they have received adequate rainfall compared to other European areas.
Referring to the launch of Tillage Industry Ireland, IFA Grain Chairman Mark Browne said, “The sector is in serious decline and a co-ordinated approach is required by all stakeholders in order to stabilise the sector,” he said.
According to CSO figures, the area planted to the main cereal crops since 2008 has reduced by 67,500ha, which represents a drop of over 20%. “This stark reality confirms that tillage must be considered as a vulnerable sector in Irish agriculture. The arable sector is of major strategic importance to the broader agricultural industry as it underpins Ireland’s livestock, dairy, drinks and mushroom sectors, and the €12.6 billion in exports,” he said.
Mark Browne said the sector faces many challenges, with the most immediate being the importation of grains from non-EU countries which are undermining Irish grain producers and Ireland’s food branding image. These third country imports are produced under standards which are not equivalent with the sustainability standards of Irish grain production.
In relation to CAP, the Grain Committee Chairman emphasised that tillage farmers had been disproportionately affected by the current regime due to downward convergence and greening issues. Any continuation of these policies in CAP 2020 would only contribute to the further decline of the arable area in the country.
Mark Browne concluded by stressing that the tillage sector had many positives aspects for the economy and particularly in relation to Ireland’s food provenance credentials. It can also play a vital role regarding Ireland achieving its climate change, biodiversity and water quality targets.
Irish barley stocks remain high with the merchant trade looking at 60kt – 80kt on hand and a further 30kt – 40kt on farms. Many mills are sitting on unusually high stocks of by-products for the time of year. Mills had overbought in anticipation of the fodder crisis continuing into the spring. However, the good weather this spring facilitated an early turnout to grass which has reduced demand. Significant amounts of wheat are being offered to the trade over recent days from the North East / Dublin region, but this would be normal for this time of year.
The latest report from Eurostat indicates that 170,000 tonnes of maize were imported into Ireland during February mainly from Brazil, Canada and the Ukraine which has undermined the local barley market. Since last July 2018, over 1 million tonnes of non-EU maize have been imported which is already significantly above the 973,000 tonnes imported in the previous marketing year