Grain Council Report July 2020
Most parts of the country received welcome rain in June which has resulted in good grass growing conditions. This has reduced the demand for supplementary feeding of concentrates. During the dry spell it was disappointing to see some official advice instructing livestock farmers to use imported feed sources with dubious sustainability standards, such as palm kernel and soya hulls when native feedstuffs are available.
The rains were too little too late for some crops, especially spring plantings which were poorly established on drier ground up through the midlands and into the east and north east.
The combination of some poor Winter crops; the increased ratio of Spring crops and the damage from the drought will still see production tonnage struggling to break the 2 million tonnes mark this season.
Green harvest prices for barley and wheat remain in range of €135 – €142/t and €155 – €162/t respectively
The FOB Creil malting barley average price is currently at €172/t. Prices rose significantly following a decision by the Chinese to put an 80% tariff on Australian barley, which led to Chinese demand for French malting barley. With a lot of social establishments now reopened across Europe and some Irish pubs reopened since June 29th, this should help malt demand.
Harvesting has started across Europe and the Black sea region. It is reported that up to 40% of the Winter barley is harvested in France. Initial yields are described as very variable across all regions. Wheat and maize prices came off yearly lows last week as it was reported that US framers had planted 5 million acres less of maize than had been initially predicted. The September matif price which had dropped as low as €175/t is now back at the €182 level.
Due to the upswing in the US maize price, the automatic mechanism calculating import duties has resulted in all import duties being removed from maize for the moment. The import duty had been as high as €10.40/t a month ago.
Due to the reduction in Winter plantings; the affects of a wet Winter and the recent drought conditions it is estimated that barley straw availability could reduce by 250,000 tonnes and wheaten straw by 180,000 tonnes compared to last year. This is almost a 40% reduction in supply.
DAFM Preliminary BPS Figures
The recently released preliminary BPS figures from DAFM show a slight reduction in the overall cereal area for 2020. However, as expected Winter crop plantings are down over 40%. Due to our dependence on imported protein for animal feed it is encouraging to see a significant increase in the beans area for 2020.
Activity since last National Council
- IFA Grain Committee have highlighted that the drought conditions in April/May have had a severe impact on the tillage sector. Recent rains have been too little too late for many crops. At best, many growers will have significant yield reductions while in other situations, entire crops are a write-off. The situation is particularly critical right up through the midlands and into the east and northeast where growers, in some cases, have practically closed the gates on crops which may not be worth harvesting.
- The Grain Committee has again called on merchants and feed mills to prioritise Irish grain and pay sustainable grain prices to Irish tillage farmers.
- The grain committee have contacted Teagasc regarding their promotion of feedstuffs such soya hulls and palm kernel and asked them to promote Irish grains in any future advisory notes.
- The Farm to Fork Strategy element of the European Green Deal is aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly. IFA have highlighted that there is nothing fair about targets in the Green Deal, which will increase the regulatory burden and undermine local tillage framers while continuing to allow access to non-EU feedstuffs produced to different standards.
- IFA has called on the new Government to support the tillage sector. We have emphasised that government cannot ignore the strategic importance of the sector to the broader agricultural industry, and the critical role native grains play in Ireland’s food provenance credentials, in addition to its low carbon footprint.
- Covid 19 has continued to have a severe impact on the tillage sector, particularly on the feed and malting barley sectors. IFA highlighted this in a recent submission to the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid Response.
- The grain committee has continued discussions with the seed companies regarding improved seed premiums.
- The malting barley committee has been in continued discussions with the malting companies regarding maximising the intake of malting barley this harvest despite the difficulties in the drinks sector. IFA has noted the support Diageo is offering to the pub trade, but have called on the drinks companies to also include growers in any support package if malting barley contracts are not honoured.
- Meetings of the IFA grain committee and the grain management committee have been held online.
- Grain Chairman Mark Browne presented at a webinar on Plant Breeding Innovation where he stressed that Irish growers need access to New Breeding Techniques such as Gene Editing in order to compete with third country imports.
- IFA, along with Copa.Cogeca, is lobbying in Brussels regarding the re authorisation of a number of vital PPP’s such as mancozeb.
- IFA has continued its campaign in relation to an increased CAP budget.
- IFA have participated in meetings of the Copa.Cogeca cereals working party and the EU Commission Civil Dialogue Group on Cereals and Oilseeds. The impact of the proposed Green Deal (Farm to Fork & Biodiversity strategies) was the main item on the agenda of both meetings. The Grain Chairman Mark Browne raised the issue of imports of third country maize and protein crops.
- IFA will continue to demand direct financial aid for the tillage sectors most affected by the Covid 19 pandemic.
- Meeting to be arranged with Teagasc regarding the inclusion of more Irish grains in Dairy rations.
- IFA will continue to contact the mushroom composters regarding procurement of Irish straw.
- CAP 2020 continues to be a major issue for the viability of the Grain sector and the Grain Committee will be working on this in the coming months.
- IFA is continuing to work on a labelling standard regarding the inclusion of native grains and will continue its campaign on greater inclusion of native grains in feed rations.
- There are still high barley stocks in parts of the country and if maize continues to be imported while these barley stocks remain than the Grain Committee will have to take action on this.